By Igor Volsky
A new survey of chief financial officers finds that American companies expect to increase the number of full-time employees by 1.8 percent over the next 12 months as key parts of the Affordable Care Act go into effect, undermining conservative critics who’ve argued that the health care law would hamper business growth and expansion.“The expected two percent growth in employment is solid, given the context of long-run shifts away from full-time employees largely because of concerns about health care reform and economic uncertainty,” John Graham, Duke Fuqua School of Business finance professor and director of the survey, said. The poll, conducted by Duke University/CFO Magazine, surveyed CFOs at 530 U.S. companies.
The results echo broader indicators showing that companies are hiring more workers.
Payroll figures released last month, for instance, found that job creation at small companies has almost doubled in the last six months, “reaching 82,000 jobs at firms with 49 or fewer employees in July, according to payroll processor ADP.” Small businesses are borrowing more, displaying greater confidence, and are seeing higher “sales of new franchises.”
Though some businesses are claiming that they are hiring more part-time workers to avoid the Affordable Care Act’s employer responsibility requirements, which apply to companies with more than 50 full-time employees, that incentive is limited and research from Moody’s economist Marisa DiNatale indicates that most industries “are actually using fewer part-timers than last year.” The growth in part-time employment, which has been taking place long before the health care law, is rooted in “industries such as restaurants and hospitality that use as much as twice as many part-timers as other companies,” DiNatale concluded.
Some employers in the Duke University survey did cite the health care law as a impediment to growth, though concerns about economic uncertainty, the belief that the stock market is overvalued and will “experience a downward correction,” and rising interest rates were also mentioned.