Private sector health care employment in the U.S. reached an all-time high of 10.7% of total employment in January 2011, according to a report based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and released by Altarum Institute’s Center for Studying Health Spending. Such growth represents an increase of more than one percentage point since the start of the recession in December 2007, when the share stood at 9.5%.
Health care employment growth also stands in sharp contrast to the rest of the economy, the report indicates. Specifically, while the rate of health care employment has risen by 6.3% since December 2007, non-health care employment has fallen by 6.8%. Moreover, January 2011 employment exhibited growth in all of the major health care settings, with outpatient care center employment showing the highest 12-month rate of increase, at 5.3%, and hospitals, the lowest rate of increase, at 0.7%.
“It’s clear from these data that the health care sector has helped to stabilize the economy and buttressed overall employment following the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression,” says Charles Roehrig, PhD, director of the Center for Studying Health Spending. “During the 19 months of post-recession recovery that officially began in June 2009, non-health employment has actually still declined, but health sector employment has grown every month. However, we believe the health sector share is likely to peak in the near future. Although health employment will continue to rise, we expect non-health employment will grow more rapidly so that health employment’s share of the total will stabilize.”
The findings in the report, and to which Roehrig referred, come from the first of Altarum’s “Health Sector Economic Indicators” reports. The reports, to be published monthly, are designed to address gaps in health macroeconomic data.