Statistical trickery? No.

Posted by: Michael Mandel on September 19

Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly raises an objection to my story:

In one sense it’s just statistical trickery: at any period in American history, if you remove the single fastest growing industry from the picture then the rest of the economy is going to look pretty anemic.

No, Kevin, that’s not right. This is a very unusual period where employment gains are so highly concentrated. Let’s look at the previous business cycle, for example. Employment peaked in june 1990. Five years later, private sector employment had grown by 6.5 million.

The single biggest contributor to that growth was health services…but it only accounted for 25% of the private employment gains from 1990 to 1995.

The next biggest was the broad category of administrative and waste services, including temporary workers, which only accounted for 21% of the gains.

To put it a different way, private employment grew at a 1.4% annual rate from June 1990 to June 1995. Take out health services, and the annual growth rate of the rest of the private sector fell a bit, to 1.1%. Not that big a difference

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Reader Comments

Lord

September 19, 2006 01:53 PM

And take out housing and the number would have fallen. At least we have that old standby, government. They better start hiring in earnest now that housing is going away.

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Michael Mandel, BW's award-winning chief economist, provides his unique perspective on the hot economic issues of the day. From globalization to the future of work to the ups and downs of the financial markets, Mandel-named 2006 economic journalist of the year by the World Leadership Forum-offers cutting edge analysis and commentary.

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