NBC ‘Nightly News’ Rare Media Outlet to Report Businesses Cutting Hours Due to Obamacare

Economists, business owners and employees are worried that the Affordable Care Act is resulting in fewer hours for workers.

The networks had been ignoring this shift toward part-time work and its relationship to Obamacare earlier this year, but NBC has let the cat out of the bag. On the Aug. 13, “Nightly News” Lisa Myers reported on an NBC News investigation into the issue.

Myers said, “We spoke to almost 20 small businesses or other entities around the country. Almost all said that because of the new law they’d be cutting back hours for some employees.”

She found a Subway franchise owner who said the law meant that he would have to cut back hours for 50 of his employees, a college in Florida that has cut back professors hours and a union president who warned this is only the beginning.

NBC “Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt teased the report saying, “Some workers who thought it meant they would finally get some health insurance are instead getting hit with a double whammy: no insurance and a pay cut.”

More accurately workers are seeing their hours cut, which will reduce their incomes. The Business and Media Institute noted that the July jobs report showed a continuation of growth in part-time work with 174,000 part-time jobs added that month.

Myers said that “The White House dismisses these examples as anecdotal. The president’s top economic adviser told us he sees no systematic evidence the health care law is having an adverse impact on the number of hours employees are working.”

Even though the Obama administration continues to deny what Holt called the “unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare],” businesses, some economists and even union leaders are admitting the problem. As the July jobs report was released Aug. 2, Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” that the report showed more people moving into part-time work and cited ObamaCare and the sequester as the causes.

“It is happening,” Joseph Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union told Myers and NBC News. Myers pointed out that Hansen works for a union that generally supports Obamacare.

“Wait a year, you’ll see a tremendous impact as workers have their hours reduced and their incomes reduced,” Hansen warned.

Also, Investor’s Business Daily dug into unpublished from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that found 30-34 hour work weeks shrinking, while the number of people working 25-29 hours a week rose. “Even as the number of people working has grown by 2.2 million, or 1.6%, over the past year, the number clocking 30 to 34 hours a week has shrunk,” IBD reported.

The Aug. 13, “Nightly News” report marked a shift from the networks previous unwillingness to report the story. The Business and Media Institute found that from Feb. 1, 2013 through July 26, 2013 (The January through June jobs reports), ABC, CBS and NBC evening news shows had not mentioned a link between Obamacare’s insurance regulations and a record high of temporary and part-time jobs once.

Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour is the Assistant Managing Editor for the MRC's Business and Media Institute.