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Healthcare Job Growth: What Lies Ahead?

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, August 8, 2011

In recent weeks there have been dizzying developments that will have an impact on job growth in the healthcare sector. The problem is, nobody really knows what that impact will be.

Let’s start with some favorable trends.

Healthcare job growth continues to be steady and strong, and one of the few bright spots in an increasingly grim economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly jobs report for July showed that the healthcare sector created 31,300 new jobs for the month, and 170,900 new jobs so far this year. Healthcare, everything from hospitals to ambulatory services centers to podiatrists’ offices, is responsible for 18.4% of the 930,000 non-farm payroll additions in the overall economy in 2011.

Why is this happening?

The easiest answer is simple demographics. We Americans are getting older, fatter, and sicker, all of which require more care. And there are more of us. The population was about 281 million in 2000, 311 million in 2010, and is projected to reach 392 million by midcentury. 

The healthcare reform law is also a factor in job growth. Hospitals, physicians’ offices, and other providers across the nation are hiring for the expected ramp up of healthcare services created by the new law, which will add about 30 million Americans to the ranks of the insured in 2014. 

Unfortunately, there are several issues out there that are creating uncertainty in the healthcare sector.

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