Controversy continues to rage over the alleged “job-killing” effects of the Affordable Care Act and potential increases in the federal minimum wage. Kathleen Sebelius recently weighed in on the Congressional Budget Office’s report about the ACA, reminding us that the CBO’s “2 million jobs lost by 2017” figure comes from Americans cutting their work hours, not employers cutting their jobs to cover healthcare costs. With a new poll showing Americans think the job market is the number-one problem today, however, why would we see these trends? The ACA and a higher minimum wage may not be a job-killers—instead they remind us that employees can demand better working conditions.
We shouldn’t necessarily think of coverage programs in terms of “jobs lost.” Instead, giving employees affordable health coverage may actually free them from “job lock.” Economic research shows that benefit programs can give low-income workers the security and potential mobility to seek out better jobs.
- Cynthia Bansak and Steven Raphael. 2008. “The state children’s health insurance program and job mobility: Identifying job lock among working parents in near-poor households.” Industrial and Labor Relations Review 61(4): 564-579
While benefits can give employees the opportunity to quit, organizational characteristics like group job satisfaction and flexibility in the workplace also affect the likelihood that employees will want to quit.
- Phyllis Moen, Erin Kelly, and Rachelle Hill. 2011. “Does enhancing work-time control and flexibility reduce turnover? A naturally occurring experiment.” Social problems 58(1): 69-98.
- Kimberly Jinnett and Jeffrey Alan Alexander. 1999. “The influence of organizational context on quitting intention an examination of treatment staff in long-term mental health care settings.” Research on Aging 21(2): 176-204.