Statistical trickery? No.

Michael Mandel

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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