Owens: Our part-time jobs president

Charles Owens

Although a sitting president can exercise a great deal of influence in trying to shape his “legacy,” in the end it is always history that makes the final call. From a job creation perspective, it is highly likely that President Barack Obama will be remembered as the “part-time jobs president.”

Despite campaign and media claims of helping the “low-income working people,” probably no other president in history has directed federal agencies under the control of the executive branch to pursue economic and fiscal policies that have created a boom in part-time, low paying jobs. The creation of these is mostly at the expense of full-time, better paying jobs.

First, we had the misnamed Affordable Care Act that required any business with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance (as dictated by the act) to anyone working more than 30 hours a week. As a consequence, many employers that could not afford to survive by complying with the edict just made two part-time jobs out of what was once a full-time job. The hapless employees involved (the ones that the president claimed to be helping) ended up having to work two part-time jobs in an attempt to stay even.

Now comes the Department of Labor with the much anticipated revisions to the federal overtime and exempt salary rules. In an effort to increase the number of employees eligible for time-and-a-half overtime pay, DOL raised the minimum salary threshold, the amount below which workers must be paid overtime, to more than double the current level from $23,660 to $47,476. According to the National Federation of Independent Business, the changes will force many small businesses to move salaried employees to hourly positions and make it harder for small businesses to promote workers to management level by creating additional costs and record-keeping headaches.

If a business cannot afford to pay employees $47,476 per year, the business will have to limit employees to 40 hours per week or pay overtime. Managers moved from their salaried positions to hourly jobs and kept under or at 40 hours per week will lose many job perks. These workers will view the change as a demotion. Once again, efforts by the Obama administration to help the “little guy” fall flat on their face and end up causing many to lose pay and benefits.

Charles Owens is the Michigan state director for the National Federation of Independent Business.