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UAlbany Center Study: Health Care Jobs Continue to Grow in New York, Although Pace Slows 

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Jobs in health care remain an important part of the New York State economy.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Aug. 31, 2011) -- While jobs in health care continue to be a vital part of New York’s economy and have been steadily growing, that job growth appears to be slowing for a variety of reasons, according to a recent report from the University at Albany’s Center for Health Workforce Studies. “Health care appears to be recession-resistant but not recession-proof,” said Jean M. Moore, director of the Center and a lead author of The Health Care Workforce in New York, 2009: Trends in the Supply and Demand for Health Workers.

In addition to the lagging economy, the slowing of health care job growth may also be related to fiscal uncertainty in health care, including cuts to Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement as well as hospital mergers and closings in the state.

“There seems to be an easing of some shortages in the health care job market,” said Moore. “Five years ago employers couldn’t find enough registered nurses to fill job openings. Now with fewer openings and additional candidates to fill these positions, employers can be more selective.”

In a recent survey, hospitals, nursing homes, and home care agencies reported difficulty enlisting experienced registered nurses to fill positions, Moore said, but little difficulty recruiting newly-trained nurses, who face a very competitive job market.

“Typically, a recent nursing graduate comes with limited clinical experience, and much time and effort are spent to orient that nurse. In contrast, an experienced nurse requires much less time to adapt to these positions,” said Moore. “While newly-trained nurses are still finding jobs, they are not finding them as easily as they once did.”

Further, projections for the future demand for nurses are based upon the assumption that nurses with many years of experience will retire. However, that may not be the case given the current uncertainty in the economy. “People may not do what you once expected them to – now they may be postponing retirement plans and may be less likely to change jobs,” said Moore. “This could result in fewer job openings.”

Between 2004 and 2009, jobs in home health care in New York grew by more than 28,600, or 38 percent, according to the report. Statewide, the most substantial job growth between 2008 and 2018 is anticipated to be for personal and home-care aides and home-health aides.

Moore cautioned against reading too much into these numbers. While the trend to keep patients at home in lieu of nursing home placements continues, cuts to home care reimbursement rates could dampen future demand for home health aides.  

The Center for Workforce Studies is affiliated with UAlbany's School of Public Health.

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