Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Job Lock

Kos is on fire today: another good post about the lost economic efficiency in the U.S. due to "job lock", i.e. the career choices people make based on their health benefits rather than their salaries.

Couple of things, though: first, I'm not sure the effect is so great as to be the #1 reason why the first decade of this century is on pace to be the worst one for economic growth since WWII. Even if the numbers quoted are correct (about 1.5 million workers in "less efficient" jobs as a result of health care decisions), that's only a bit over 1% of the American work force. And of this 1%, the amount of lost efficiency is some fraction of that, probably no more than 10%. So this effect might explain 0.1% in lost economic growth. But that's not enough to explain the slow decade.

Second, of course Mr. Devilstower from Kos cannot help but blame Republicans for this. He's entirely wrong. The reason we're in this pickle in the first place is because of wage freezes put in place by the FDR administration. And the only Presidential candidate in 2008 who wanted to level the playing field between buying health insurance indepenently and buying it through your employer was... John McCain. Obama simply pilloried him for this. Furthermore, breaking the link between employment and health insurance is a feature of many Republican counter-plans.

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