Healthcare Job Growth Outpaced Nearly Every Other Sector in 2018

Nurse Leader Insider, January 10, 2019

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By John Commins

This article first appeared in HealthLeaders Media.

The healthcare sector created one in seven new jobs in the United States in 2018, according to new preliminary data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For 2018, healthcare created a total of 346,000 jobs—nearly 29,000 new jobs each month—up from 284,000 jobs created in 2017. The 2018 figures include 219,000 new jobs in ambulatory services and 107,000 new hospital jobs.

In the overall economy, total nonfarm employment increased by 2.6 million in 2018, compared with 2.2 million in 2017, and the unemployment rate ticked up 0.2 percentage point to 3.9% in December.

A further breakdown of employment in healthcare shows that the sector ended the year with 50,000 new jobs in December, including 38,000 jobs in ambulatory services and 7,000 jobs in healthcare.

At the end of 2018, more than 16.2 million people worked in the healthcare sector, which accounts for nearly 11% of all jobs in the overall economy, including 7.6 million in ambulatory services, and 5.2 million in hospitals.

Healthcare job growth outpaced nearly every other major sector of the economy in 2018, including food services (261,000), construction (280,000), manufacturing (284,000), retail sales (92,000).

The new data is in line with BLS projections that healthcare sector employment will grow 18% from 2016 to 2026, "much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.4 million new jobs."

"This projected growth is mainly due to an aging population, leading to greater demand for healthcare services," BLS said.

On the downside, hospital spending will grow about 5.5% each year, from $1.3 trillion in 2018 to $1.8 trillion in 2026, driven largely by those same demographics.

Only professional and business services outstripped healthcare job growth, creating 583,000 new jobs in the sector, BLS data show.    

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