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With the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (colloquially known as "Obamacare") set to become effective on January 1, 2014, businesses are now in the process of addressing the impact of PPACA’s implementation.  PPACA currently exempts companies with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees from providing health care coverage.  Those over that threshold face fines based on the number of employees that receive subsidies.  With its mix of full and part-time employees, expect the restaurant industry to alter its workforce.  One strategy to minimize fines is to cut workers to below the 30-hour threshold.  Recent reports suggest that this may already be happening: the number part-time workers as a share of the overall labor force has increased to 20.6%.

(  Other reports indicate that several popular restaurant franchises are evaluating operational changes and reviewing strategy for employing part-time versus full-time employees.  The Darden Group (owner of Red Lobster and Olive Garden, among others) tried increasing the number of part-time workers (those working less than 30 hours per week) with unfavorable results.  (  Only time will tell the full impact of PPACA's regulations on the economic opportunities in the labor force.  But one should expect that these added costs will be bourn by consumers.  Recently, a Five Guys franchisee in North Carolina made headlines by saying the costs of PPACA will eat into his profits to the point that he will have no choice but to pass those cost on to his customers. (  If customers ultimately decide not to pay these higher prices, the restaurant industry will be faced with an even worse set of challenges.