The health care sector has been the nation's top industry for job creation in the past two years. In 2015, health care created a record 471,600 new jobs, and 2016 is expected to top that incredible figure. In the first half of 2016, the health care industry saw the creation of 234,600 new positions with 39,000 new jobs in June alone. The majority of these new jobs were in ambulatory services, hospitals and residential care.
This robust growth in the industry as a whole has also bolstered the staffing segment. According to the Staffing Industry Analysts, the health care staffing industry should grow by 13 percent in 2016 and drop to 8 percent in 2017. The accelerated growth in staffing in 2015 and 2016 is largely attributable to the increased number of patients resulting from the Affordable Care Act. With an initial bump in insured patients in 2014, the health care sector saw an additional five million more non-elderly patients in 2016. An additional two million are expected to obtain health coverage in 2017, fueling more new job creation. Since passage in 2010, ACA has helped add two million jobs to the health care sector.
Within the staffing market, the profession most likely to experience strong growth is travel nursing. This specialty grew by 40 percent in 2015 and 22 percent in 2016. The market is expected to grow by 12 percent in 2017. The locum tenens market should also experience strong growth in the coming year, with growth over 10 percent in 2016, dropping below that next year. As the number of jobs increases, so too has overall revenue; it is projected that the health care staffing industry will experience 4 percent revenue growth in both this year and the next, to reach almost $145 billion.
While these sturdy figures may be a boon for the health care industry, such rampant growth has drawn criticism from some economists. Some critics suggest that the surplus of health care positions may actually stymy overall national economic growth. Too many professionals in this sector may also contribute to increased waste and costs.
Almost one in 9 Americans earns their salary from health-related occupations. This may appear to benefit the nation, but there are hidden costs. For every physician, there are nine administrative positions. These administrative costs are contributing to a rapid rise in health care costs which are being saddled on the business community and American families.
Skyrocketing health care costs are having a chilling effect on the rest of the economy. Almost 90 percent of polled executives said that health costs have suppressed employee wage growth and business investment.
Although the health care industry is a major engine of job creation, good jobs with relatively high incomes, there is an undoubted tradeoff. Too many of these jobs weakens economic growth in other sectors. It is incumbent upon health care to create necessary positions that improve care quality and access without wasting resources that might have been constructively utilized by other businesses.
Article written by:
Robert Moghim, M.D.
CEO, Health Carousel Locum Tenens