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.
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.

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