Recent Evidence on the ACA and Employment: Has the ACA Been a Job Killer?

An analysis of federal data on employment and the U.S. labor force finds that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) had virtually no adverse effect on labor force participation; employment; the probability of part-time work; and hours worked per week by nonelderly adults, despite pre-ACA predictions to the contrary.

The Issue

The ACA contains several provisions that could affect employment and the labor market, including: the mandate that large employers provide health insurance to full-time workers; Medicaid expansion; and the provision of subsidies in the health insurance marketplaces.

Key Findings

  • While part-time employment has increased slightly, the increase is small enough that there is no overall change in labor supply.

  • Medicaid expansion had virtually no effect on the labor market.

Conclusion

The authors find that there is nothing particularly unusual about labor market outcomes in 2014 that would suggest the ACA has had much effect on employment, if any at all. And since they were able to find small changes, it is unlikely that the large labor market effects predicted prior to the ACA could come to fruition in the coming years.

About the Urban Institute

The nonprofit Urban Institute is dedicated to elevating the debate on social and economic policy. For nearly five decades, Urban scholars have conducted research and offered evidence-based solutions that improve lives and strengthen communities across a rapidly urbanizing world. Their objective research helps expand opportunities for all, reduce hardship among the most vulner­able and strengthen the effectiveness of the public sector. For more information specific to the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center, its staff and its recent research, visit http://www.urban.org/policy-centers/health-policy-center.