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3.5 Million New Healthcare Jobs Expected by 2016

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, July 13, 2009

Healthcare will remain the largest source of job growth in the coming years, with 3.5 million new jobs across the sector expected by 2016, and perhaps even more jobs coming if universal health insurance is implemented, according to a new study released today by the President's Council of Economic Advisors.

"We emphasize that this expected growth in health care occupations does not account for comprehensive health care reform," according to the 30-page report, Preparing the Workers of Today for the Jobs of Tomorrow.

"Healthcare reform is expected to slow the growth rate of health spending as efficiency is improved. However, even with a slower growth rate of spending, the expected expansion of health coverage could lead to increased demand for workers–including physicians, non-physician clinicians, healthcare support workers and nurses–to cover the newly insured population."

"Healthcare practitioners and technicians, which include physicians, registered nurses, and other health professionals and technicians, are expected to be in increasing demand," the report stated. Investments in health information technology will bolster job growth in that area, while the healthcare support sector–including physical therapists, medical social workers, and home healthcare aides–is projected to see even faster job growth as the nation's population ages.

The study's findings are consistent with Bureau of Labor Statistics data, which show that the healthcare sector continues to be one of the few areas of job growth amid the recession, although that growth has slowed considerably when compared to recent years. Overall, the healthcare sector—from physicians' offices, to residential mental health homes, to blood and organ banks—reported 20,800 payroll additions in June, and 127,300 new jobs in the first half of 2009, BLS preliminary data show. In the first half of 2008, the healthcare sector grew 179,400 new jobs, and averaged about 30,000 new jobs per month.

The fastest area of job growth in the healthcare sector continues to be in the ambulatory healthcare services, which reported 12,400 new jobs in June, and 83,700 new jobs in the first half of 2009, BLS preliminary data show.

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