As I mentioned last week, even that most excellent of all grocery stores, Wegmans — much like many other businesses — is adjusting to the new costs of doing business directly imposed on them by ObamaCare, and is now preparing to nix their longtime practice of voluntarily offering health insurance options to part-time employees who work even just 20+ hours/week. In that same vein, the “Affordable” Care Act has made hiring part-time employees (i.e., those who work less than the 30 hours over which employers will be required to provide health insurance) over full-time employees an increasingly attractive option for employers, especially as the insurance plans themselves get increasingly expensive — which might help to explain some of the relatively rampant hiring going on in the restaurant and hospitality industry right now. The WSJ reports:

Restaurants and bars have been adding an average of 50,000 jobs monthly since April—about double the rate from 2012. … Overall, leisure-and-hospitality establishments hired more workers than any other industry in June, accounting for 75,000 of the 195,000 jobs added last month, according to the most recent Labor Department report, although economists cautioned against reading too much into one month’s preliminary figures.

But a number of restaurants and other low-wage employers say they are increasing their staffs by hiring more part-time workers to reduce reliance on full-timers before the health-care law takes effect. …

For the entire U.S. workforce, employers have added far more part-time employees in 2013—averaging 93,000 a month, seasonally adjusted—than full-time workers, which have averaged 22,000. Last year the reverse was true, with employers adding 31,000 part-time workers monthly, compared with 171,000 full-time ones. …

Restaurant owners who have already begun shifting to part-time workers say they will continue that pattern.

“Does the delay change anything for us? Absolutely not,” Mr. Adams of Subway said, explaining that whether his health-care costs go up next year or in 2015, he will have to comply with the law. “We won’t start hiring full-time people.”

The potential for a “part-time nation” phenomenon under ObamaCare isn’t a surprise by any stretch of the imagination, but businesses are now beginning to respond to the incentives created by the president’s signature law en masse, along with the many other negative side effects of ObamaCare’ ill-advised prescriptions — and the employer-mandate delay is far too little, far too late to do anything substantive about it.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

With time running out, U.S. officials are struggling to cope with the task of launching the new online health insurance exchanges at the heart of President Barack Obama’s signature health reforms by an Oct. 1 deadline.

The White House, and federal agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), must ensure that working marketplaces open for enrollment in all 50 states in less than 80 days, and are responding to mounting pressure by concentrating on three essential areas that will determine whether the most critical phase of Obamacare succeeds or fails.

“The administration right now is in a triage mode. Seriously, they do not have the resources to implement all of the provisions on time,” Washington and Lee University professor Timothy Jost, a healthcare reform expert and advocate, told an oversight panel in the U.S. House of Representatives last week.

Current and former administration officials, independent experts and business representatives say the three priorities are the creation of an online portal that will make it easy for consumers to compare insurance plans and enroll in coverage; the capacity to effectively process and deliver government subsidies that help consumers pay for the insurance; and retention of the law’s individual mandate, which requires nearly all Americans to have health insurance when Obama’s healthcare reform law comes into full force in 2014.