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Health Sector Employment Expected to Grow at Twice the Rate as General Economy by 2020, Adding 4.2 Million Jobs

UAlbany’s Center for Health Workforce Studies Report Reveals Projections

Over 1.2 million new registered nurses will be needed in the U.S. to fill new and existing jobs, according to a new CHWS report

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 6, 2012) - The U.S. health care sector is projected to add 4.2 million jobs by 2020, growing at twice the rate as the general economy, according to a new study by the Center for Health Workforce Studies at the University at Albany. More than 60 percent of these jobs will be in ambulatory care.

Registered nurses, home health aides, and personal care aides are among the occupations nationally projected to have the largest job growth, adding more than 2 million jobs and another 700,000 job openings due to vacancies from attrition by 2020.

The Center’s study also found that while total U.S. employment dropped by more than 2 percent between 2000 and 2010, health care employment grew by more than 25 percent during the same period.

“Health care employment is an important economic engine in the U.S.,” said Center for Health Workforce Studies Director Jean Moore. “Health sector jobs and health occupations have continued to grow, even in a weak economy, and will remain a major source of jobs for years to come.”

The study is based on an analysis of the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics 10-year (2010-2020) occupational and industry projections for employment in the U.S., which are released every two years. The Center's analysis focused on the most significant data related to health sector and health occupations employment and highlights the increasing importance of the health sector to the country’s economy. This report presents projections for health sector employment and health occupations employment. Health occupations employment includes jobs within the health sector, such as registered nurses (RNs) working in hospitals, as well as jobs outside the health sector, such as RNs working in schools or for insurance companies.

According to the report, by 2020:

  • Nearly one in nine U.S. jobs is projected to be in the health sector.
  • Nearly 7.5 million health workers will be needed nationally to fill new jobs and to replace workers who leave their jobs across all employment sectors.
  • Offices of physicians are projected to add nearly 760,000 new jobs nationally.
  • Over 1.2 million new RNs will be needed in the U.S. to fill new and existing jobs
“With an aging health care professional workforce, we will not only see new job growth but also openings in existing positions as workers retire or leave for other job opportunities," said Robert Martiniano, principal author of the report.

The Center for Health Workforce Studies at UAlbany’s School of Public Health is a not-for-profit research organization whose mission is to provide timely, accurate data and conduct policy-relevant research about the health workforce. The Center’s work assists health, professional, and education organizations; policy makers and planners; and other stakeholders to understand issues related to the supply, demand, distribution, and use of health workers.

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