[Paleopsych] Health Benefits and the 'Jobless Recovery'

Steve shovland at mindspring.com
Sat Aug 21 15:45:48 UTC 2004

Are we the the only first world country that doesn't have Universal Health 
Care?  (steve)
An article in yesterday's New York Times seems likely to provide fodder for 
the debate over the so-called "jobless recovery" being experienced by the 
U.S. economy.
Despite nearly three years of uninterrupted economic growth, the economy 
has been adding a relatively small number of jobs each month. One 
"significant factor" causing the employment slump is the increasing cost of 
employee health insurance, according to the article.
The Times cited government data, industry surveys, and interviews with 
large and small employees in reporting "that many businesses remain 
reluctant to hire full-time employees because health insurance, which now 
costs the nation's employers an average of about $3,000 a year for each 
worker, has become one of the fastest-growing costs for companies."
Health-benefit costs are draining corporate assets more than even climbing 
energy costs, according to the article. The cost of health benefits in the 
second quarter rose at a 12-month rate of 8.1 percent. That's more than 
triple the inflation rate and the rate of wage and salary increases, 
according to the newspaper.
"Health care is a major reason why employment growth has been so sluggish," 
the article quoted Sung Won Sohn, the chief economist at Wells Fargo, as 
Allan Gilmour, the vice chairman of Ford Motor and a former CFO of the 
company, told the newspaper, it would to be hard to find a direct link 
between higher health care expenses and the lag in hiring, since employment 
decisions were driven by many factors.
"Health is a larger and larger part of our compensation package," Gilmour 
was quoted as saying. "It is hard to know what we are doing or not doing 
because of this. But on a macro level there's no question about it: this 
pressure comes to bear on everything we do."

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