UAlbany Report: Explosive Growth in U.S. Health Care Employment Continues as Other Sectors Lag

The health care sector is expected to grow about 22 percent between 2014 and 2024, according to a new UAlbany CHWS report.

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 19, 2016) -- Between 2004 and 2014, jobs in the health care sector grew 20 percent, compared to three percent for all other sectors, according to a recent report by the University at Albany's Center for Health Workforce Studies (CHWS). The trend is expected to continue as the health care industry is projected to grow much faster than other industries through the next decade as well.

Based on an analysis of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2014 – 2024 projections, the report noted that health care jobs grew by 20 percent between 2004 and 2014 compared to three percent for all other employment sectors, and is projected to grow by nearly 22 percent between 2014 and 2024 compared to nearly five percent for all other employment sectors.

The report analyzed health care employment in the health sector, including hospitals, nursing homes, home health care, and offices of health practitioners separately from other employment sectors to understand the BLS projections specific to health care. Additionally, the report assessed current and future employment growth for 99 health occupations.

"Our analysis finds that while employment in the health care sector has seen more modest job growth since the previous period, it has outpaced growth in all other employment sectors," said Robert Martiniano, senior program manager at CWHS. "Additionally, 13 percent of employment in the United States in 2014 was related to health care – either employment in health care settings or health care practitioners working outside of health care."

Among the findings, between 2014 and 2024:

  • 20 of the 30 fastest-growing occupations nationally are projected to be in health care occupations, including occupational therapy assistants (43 percent), physical therapy assistants (41 percent), physical therapy aides (39 percent), home health aides (38 percent), and nurse practitioners (35 percent);
  • Personal care aides (458,100), registered nurses (439,300), home health aides (348,400), nursing assistants (262,000), and medical assistants (138,900) are projected to grow the most;
  • Nearly 440,000 new registered nurse (RN) jobs are expected to be added, while more than 600,000 existing RN jobs will need to be filled due to RNs leaving these positions; and
  • More than 400,000 physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and nurse midwives will be needed to fill new and existing positions.

The report also noted that while jobs in health care settings increased between 2004 and 2014, there was a decline in in jobs for non-health care workers in the health care sector, such as food service workers or janitorial staff.

"Over 500,000 non-health occupation jobs in health care settings were lost between 2008 and 2014," according to Jean Moore, CHWS Director. "We believe this decline is related to a number of factors, including mergers or consolidations, outsourcing, and transitioning staff and services to ambulatory settings. In some instances, the declines may represent actual job loss while in other instances it may represent jobs moving into other employment sectors."

To view the full report, visit the CHWS website.

Established in 1996, CHWS is a not-for-profit research organization, based at the School of Public Health. The mission of CHWS is to provide timely, accurate data and conduct policy relevant research about the health workforce. The research conducted by CHWS supports and promotes health workforce planning and policymaking at local, regional, state, and national levels. Today, CHWS is a national leader in the field of health workforce studies, and the only one with a unique focus on the oral health workforce.

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