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Healthcare Job Growth Cools Slightly

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 10, 2012

For years now Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly employment reports have been showing that the healthcare sector is the biggest job creation machine in the U.S. economy.

BLS has estimated that by 2020 the healthcare sector will create 5.6 million new jobs, thanks in large part to the aging Baby Boomer population and the expansion of health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Healthcare is labor-intensive. The American Hospital Association says that labor accounts for nearly 60% of spending for hospital care. With healthcare costs rising at roughly three times the rate of inflation, it's not clear how long the rest of the economy can continue to support this job growth.

It is not completely farcical to say that the nation is on a trajectory that may eventually have everyone working in healthcare and spending all of their money on healthcare, which already gobbles nearly 20% of the gross domestic product.

The talk about "bending the healthcare cost curve" centers around reducing waste and fraud and improving quality. We don't hear much about slowing healthcare job growth even though wages and benefits are the single largest expense in healthcare.

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