Healthcare Jobs Report Creates Clashing Narratives

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , January 13, 2014

What will 2014 bring? Based on what I'm reading and hearing, we will see the continued trend of two divergent job markets within the healthcare sector.

For support and administrative staff there will continue to be tepid, marginal growth, not because there is growing demand, but because healthcare is simply a massive, labor-intensive industry. The healthcare sector accounts for more than 14.6 million jobs so attrition is inevitable. People retire. People get fired. People quit. People move. People are replaced. We will see job growth but likely not the pace that we've seen over the past 10 years.

The Conference Board regularly tracks online ads for healthcare support jobs—the "have nots" of the healthcare universe—and finds that there are more than two people looking for every job advertised. The jobs also pay about $13.36 an hour.

That factoid is inverted for skilled clinicians, executives and technology folks; aka the healthcare "haves." The Conference Board shows that there are more than two jobs advertised for every skilled healthcare jobseeker, with an average salary of $35 an hour.

Anecdotally, recruiters across the country routinely tell me they're finding a robust market for skilled clinicians in every part of the country.

The bottom line: Healthcare providers are consolidating in an era of tighter margins and decreased utilization. Of course hiring is going to take a hit. Because of its vital nature, the healthcare sector may be more resistant to the economic forces that affect every other industry. It's not immune.  

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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