Spring graduates at Jacksonville University’s Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences will find a robust and expanding job market in their economic sector.
While many JU nursing students already are happily employed, individual career goals evolve over time. Graduation is a good time to assess your career path and examine the potential job opportunities.
Since mid-2017, the healthcare industry has added approximately 25,000 jobs per month.
In December 2017, healthcare moved past manufacturing and retail to become the largest employment sector in the United States. As of January 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated there were 19.685 million healthcare employees in the country.
By the end of March 2018, that number already had jumped by more than 100,000 to 19.789 million healthcare employees, according to the BLS’ monthly jobs report.
The healthcare job market has shown resilience throughout the past decade.
Even during the recession of 2008, the healthcare sector gained jobs every month. The healthcare job market continues to thrive despite political uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act and increasing costs across the board.
That trend is expected to continue well into the 21st century as the Baby Boomer generation ages and begins to demand more and better care from doctors, nurses and support staff at clinics, hospitals, at home and in other healthcare facilities.
The BLS projects that between 2016 and 2026, the U.S. economy will add a total of 11.5 million jobs. Of those, about one-third – 4.0 million – are projected to be added in the healthcare sector.
The Fastest-Growing Healthcare Jobs
One consideration that could be on a new healthcare graduate’s mind: What jobs are projected to provide the most promising growth in the coming years? The most significant growth is projected for healthcare support positions and jobs that fill the growing need for individualized care.
On the other hand, as summer 2018 approached, nurses were in demand. One way to measure that demand is to check the online jobs board Indeed, which in mid-April had 217,000 jobs with “nurse” in the title posted. Of those, 183,000 were full-time positions.
The BLS provides occasional updates to its projections for long-term job growth, including an annual report on the occupations with the most job growth. Its April 2018 list of the 30 fastest-growing occupations included seven healthcare-related positions, including three of the four fastest-growing jobs:
- Personal care aides – This healthcare support position is ranked at the top of the fastest-growing jobs in the country, with an anticipated growth rate of 38.6% from 2016-2026. The BLS projects this entry-level job will grow by 777,600 positions by 2026.
- Registered nurses – Nurses are on the front line of healthcare and drive the quality of care and the success of outcomes. This is the third-fastest growing position in the U.S., with an anticipated addition of 579,900 new positions by 2026.
- Home health aides – This is the fourth-fastest growing occupation in the nation, with an additional 431,200 jobs projected to be added by 2026.
- Medical assistants – This support position is poised for 29% growth, with 183,900 positions added by 2026.
- Nursing assistants – Expected to grow at 11.5% through 2026.
- Medical secretaries – Expected to grow 22.5% through 2026.
- Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses – Expected to grow 12.3% by 2026.
The job growth in support roles will be matched by growth for Health Informatics professionals. According to the BLS, medical and health services managers – many of whom are seeking to broaden their base of knowledge by earning advanced degrees such as a Master of Science in Health Informatics – can expect 20% job growth from 2016-2026.
Jobs and the ‘Care Economy’
As mentioned above, one reason the healthcare job market is expanding in the U.S. is age. According to the Atlantic, one-fourth of the U.S. workforce will be 55 and older by 2025, double what it was in 1995.
In short, older people require more care, and healthcare facilities are scrambling to meet that demand.
The Atlantic article also points out that even as the ACA has been targeted for elimination by elements within Congress since it became law in 2010, healthcare overall continues to benefit from government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid – as well as subsidies and tax breaks for insurance carriers and companies that offer employee healthcare.
The past and future growth of healthcare jobs has given rise recently to the term “care economy.” This is an attempt by market analysts to label the economic drivers that have replaced the 20th century’s mainstays – first manufacturing and, later in the century, service and retail.
One concern expressed in recent analyses is that fastest growing jobs in healthcare – personal care aides and home health aides – are relatively low-paying. Nursing, on the other hand, continues to provide well-paid positions and registered nurses (with or without a BSN or MSN) drew a median annual salary of $70,000 nationwide in 2017, according to the BLS.