Monday, March 8, 2010

Dichotomy between National Unemployment and Health Care Employment

Would someone out there among my readership help me understand?

President Obama keeps saying a big problem behind the nation’s troubled economy and our dire unemployment picture is rising health costs.

I have a problem.

I understand Obama’s point of view to a limited extent. Employers, particularly small businesses and start-ups, can’t afford to hire new workers because of health benefit expenses, so they do not hire new people, let go the old, or end health benefits all together.

What I do not understand is this: the latest Labor Department report indicates the U.S. lost “only” 36,000 jobs last month while the health sector gained 12,000 jobs. For February, the subsector for ambulatory health-care services posted the largest runup, adding 6,700 jobs. During this deep recession, the U.S. has lost 7 million jobs while health care has added 700,000 jobs.

Are job gains in health care bad? Are gains in health employment, and added taxes for local and state budgets, bad for the economy?

In many communities, health care is the dominant employer – the only place to go for a job, even a new career.

Is this bad? Please explain.


A Dismal Economist


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