The Trouble With Jobs

Jared Bernstein observes that the health care sector is a reliable engine of job creation in even the most severe recession. This, however, should mostly remind us that talking about different ideas in terms of their abilty to “create jobs” can get pretty misguided. As Don Taylor writes, this chart is really showing us the lack of productivity improvements in the health care sector, the very thing that drives costs up and living standards down.

When policymakers deliver adequate aggregate demand, the desirability of having people be employed rather than unemployed will take care of itself. When you’re talking about an issue that’s not the issue of aggregate demand, you need to not worry too much about jobs and instead think about “prosperity” or “high living standards” or “good health” or “clean air” or “fewer traffic jams” or whatever other problem you’re interested in solving.