A Federal Reserve report out Wednesday said that concerns about ObamaCare are weighing on hiring and sales, the latest evidence that the sweeping health law already is having a significant negative impact on employment.
The U.S. economy continued to expand at a "modest to moderate" pace last month, according to the central bank's beige book. But the Fed's anecdotal report of economic conditions also noted that President Obama's Affordable Care Act isn't helping.
"Employers in several Districts cited the unknown effects of the Affordable Care Act as reasons for planned layoffs and reluctance to hire more staff," the beige book report read.
Businesses in several districts also told the Fed that the payroll tax hike and ObamaCare "restrained sales growth.
The Richmond Fed stated: "Employers across the District continued to cite the Affordable Care Act and its unknown impacts as reasons for planned layoffs and reluctance to hire more staff.
The Kansas City Fed stated: "Firms continued to report changes in health care policy and fiscal uncertainty as reasons for delayed hiring.
The Dallas Fed said this about staffing firms: "Some contacts noted concern that client companies are hiring the absolute minimum to get by due to uncertainty about the Affordable Care Act.
The beige book report follows signs by restaurants, hospitality firms and other low-wage employers to reduce work hours to avoid ObamaCare employer fines. The retail work week hit a three-year low of 30.1 hours last month — even as the number of retail workers rose significantly.
Employers have until June before staffing levels begin to determine fines — up to $3,000 per employee — in 2014 when the ObamaCare exchanges are supposed to begin.
Firms with fewer than 50 workers are exempt. The law also doesn't count part-time workers, defined as 30 hours or less per week.
Darden Restaurants (DRI), Frisch's Restaurants (FRS), Krispy Kreme (KKD) and Wal-Mart (WMT) are among the employers that have disclosed plans to cut employer hours or health care benefits due to ObamaCare.
The part-time workforce surged to 20.6% of the labor force in February, according to a recent Gallup survey.
The Labor Department's March employment report on Friday may provide more data on ObamaCare's effects on jobs and work hours.