Obamacare will push the equivalent of about 2 million workers out of the labor market by 2017 as employees decide either to work fewer hours or drop out of the job market altogether, according to estimates released Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office.
The analysis set off a furious debate in Washington. The White House argued that the reduction is positive because it means Americans will forgo jobs or extra work to stay home with their children or strike out on their own as entrepreneurs. Republicans, however, said the report amounted to an “I told you so” moment and that subtracting the equivalent of 2 million workers can’t be good for the economy.
The CBO said the number of workers dropping out of the labor force will grow from 2 million in 2017 to 2.5 million by 2024.
Although part of those numbers are attributed to job cuts, the vast majority represent workers who decide it makes more sense to stay home or work fewer hours, weighing the higher taxes they pay in the workforce versus their qualifications for benefits if they drop out.
“CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 to 2 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor — given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive,” the nonpartisan tax agency said in its economic outlook.
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