The healthcare industry has shown consistent, robust growth, which is expected to continue in the foreseeable future.
Growth in demand for healthcare services translates into expanding scope of jobs for medical workers, including physicians, nurses, medical technologists, allied health professionals, and support staff.
Increased Healthcare Spending
Projections show that healthcare spending from 2010 to 2026 (when it exceeds $5.7 trillion) would have more than doubled.
While the spending has risen and will continue to rise for various reasons, the growing demand for healthcare workers is a major reason. Labor in healthcare sector constitutes the single biggest cost component.
Booming Healthcare Employment
Ever since the recession ended, employment in healthcare sector has continued to thrive. Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that healthcare employment has grown month after month since 2013.
Even in 2017, when the future of healthcare policy was a subject of hot debate, the healthcare industry was adding an average of 24,000 jobs every month. While fluctuations in job demand will occur, the trajectory of growth in the foreseeable future appears to be consistently upward.
Gap between Job Openings and Hires Widening
The JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) provides a key insight that since 2014, the gap between job openings and hires in healthcare has been widening fast. The number of job openings has risen, but job hires have continued to be relatively static. This means the number of unfilled jobs is growing as the demand exceeds supply.
Retirement of Baby Boomer medical practitioners, aging population and strengthening economy are some of the factors influencing this swelling gap. It indicates that healthcare employers are experiencing hurdles in finding enough medical professionals and support workers to fill the current job openings.
Projected Annual Job Openings
Projected future job openings are probably the most significant data to estimate future growth in healthcare. The BLS projections for job openings in healthcare from 2016 to 2026 show a remarkable number of 1.26m job openings per year.
For all healthcare practitioners and technical personnel, annual job openings are projected to be 624,000 (this includes 204,000 Registered Nurse job openings). This strong numbers demonstrate that the healthcare sector jobs are expected to remain robust for the better part of the coming decade.
Aging Population: Key Demand Driver
The aging US population is the most significant demand driver for healthcare workers and services. The US Census Bureau estimates show that the number of people above the age of 65 will increase to 84 million in 2050 (it was 43 million in 2012), constituting 21 percent of the overall population.
People above 65 experience thrice as many hospital days compared to the younger population. Two-thirds of older Americans suffer from multiple chronic conditions, which require complex care delivery.
Older people are more likely to need assisted living and nursing services. All these factors push up the demand for medical workers.
More Employment Leads to More Healthcare Demand
Employment has a direct correlation to healthcare utilization because jobs often come with health insurance benefits. Secondly, people with jobs can afford to spend money on deductibles, co-pays, and direct healthcare costs.
Therefore, better employment numbers in the economy usually provides an added boost to healthcare jobs.