In 2000, there were 7 million more workers in manufacturing than in health care. At the beginning of the Great Recession, there were 2.4 million more workers in retail than health care. In 2017, health care surpassed both. The healthcare industry is now the largest U.S. employer. Much of the growth is not in roles that provide patient care – administrative jobs are growing at the fastest pace. Let’s look at the numbers generated by CareerBuilder, growth is represented by number of new jobs since 2007:
No. 1 — Home health aides: 46 percent growth (296,952 more jobs)
No. 2 — Physical therapist assistants: 34 percent growth (22,275 more jobs)
No. 3 — Nurse practitioners: 32 percent growth (38,563 more jobs)
No. 4 — Health technologists and technicians, all other: 30 percent growth (30,583 more jobs)
No. 5 — Genetic counselors: 31 percent growth (709 more jobs)
No. 6 — Hearing aid specialists: 28 percent growth (1,582 more jobs)
No. 7 (tie) — Mental health counselors: 27 percent growth (34,996 more jobs)
No. 7 (tie) — Physical therapists: 27 percent growth (49,202 more jobs)
No. 9 — Healthcare social workers: 26 percent growth (35,980 more jobs)
No. 10 — Medical secretaries: 20 percent (95,649 more jobs)
No. 11 — Registered nurses: 16 percent (397,315 more jobs)
No. 12 — Nursing assistants: 12 percent (163,770 more jobs)
This growth is not all necessarily good news, though. About a quarter of all U.S. healthcare spending is in administrative costs rather than the direct provision of care, and those new jobs, and their associated costs, are passed on to those paying the bills, including the patient. Hospitals are expanding their payrolls, and labor already comprises over half the cost of a hospitalization. As the trend toward outpatient care continues, the pressure to fill those empty beds will be even more enormous than it is now. In many communities, the local hospital is the biggest employer, and layoffs have significant political consequences that ripple through a community. Lastly, while many healthcare jobs pay well, the largest growth is in one of the lowest-skilled and paid jobs -home health aides.
For some communities, the growth is healthcare jobs is a boon. Nevertheless, for the nation, we may just be painting ourselves into an economic corner.