Posts Tagged ‘Bureau of Labor Statistics’

Healthcare Employment on a Strong Growth Trajectory

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Healthcare employment will continue to grow much faster than employment in general, with the number of jobs in home care and other ambulatory settings expected to grow by more than 40 percent by 2020, according to a new study from the Center for Health Workforce Studies (CHWS) at the State University of New York at Albany.

Recent statistics from the Department of Labor focus on an expected hiring shift away from hospitals, as the system emphasizes preventive care and fewer admissions, said Jean Moore, CHWS director.  “For a long time, acute-care services tended to trump everything else, and that seems to be changing,” Moore said.  “There’s a growing awareness that it’s penny-wise and pound-foolish not to pay attention to preventive and primary care.”

Hospitals also are expected to keep hiring — nearly one million between now and 2020 — for a growth rate of 17 percent – as baby boomers age and need more inpatient care.

Physicians’ offices and other healthcare professionals are projected to hire 1.4 million people by 2020, a 36 percent increase.  The number of home health care jobs will soar by 872,000 – that’s an 81 percent growth rate.  The total number of ambulatory-care jobs will grow by 2.7 million by 2020, or 44 percent.

According to Kaiser Health News, healthcare is projected to be a growth industry, even if the Supreme Court strikes down the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).  “One of the things I wasn’t expecting was how much growth there was even during the recession,” Moore said.  “I would have expected some tempering of the growth.”

Although total U.S. employment declined by two percent between 2000 and 2010, healthcare employment rose 25 percent — demonstrating the sector’s expanding share of the economy.  By 2020, nearly one of every nine American jobs will be in healthcare.  When you consider that four million new health jobs will be created and people retiring from existing ones, more than seven million new workers will be needed.  That includes more than one million nurses.

According to the report, administrative healthcare jobs were cut during the economic slump from 2008 to 2010, a time when providers added nursing and other clinical positions.  Recent reports suggest that hospitals are hiring additional administrative staff to keep up with the increased regulation required by the ACA.  “They may be rehiring the people they had to let go when times were tight,” Moore said.

Healthcare employment totaled 14.19 million in October of 2011, an increase from the 13.88 million a year earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Hospital jobs increased by 84,000 during the same time period.  Ambulatory services — physician offices, outpatient clinics and home health agencies added more than 173,000 positions.

Demand is strongest for general practitioners, nurse practitioners and physician assistants at private practices, community clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities.  Demand also is high for physical therapists.  Some analysts predict that the shortage of physical therapists will increase as healthcare reform goes into effect.  Fewer uninsured Americans translates to a greater demand for physical therapy.  In response, medical schools are expanding and developing physical therapy training programs.

If anything, the physical therapist shortage will worsen, because in 2000, 15.6 percent were between the ages 50 and 64; 10 years later, 32 percent were in that age bracket, according to a report from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).  Unemployment among physical therapists remains remarkably low: In 2010, only 0.4 percent — one in 250 — of physical therapists were jobless.  “Nobody knows how accountable-care organizations and medical homes will shake out, but healthcare reform in general will decrease the number of uninsured, which will increase demand for physical therapists,” said Marc Goldstein, senior director of research for the APTA.  “Physical therapy programs are being developed or expanded, so the current level of 6,000 graduates annually should creep up.”

A survey by Sullivan, Cotter and Associates, Inc., a nationally-recognized compensation and human resource management consulting firm, over the last year, nearly 75 percent of respondents reported they increased their physician staffing levels; adding an average of 12 specialists and nine primary-care physicians to their staffs.  Another 75 percent said they plan to increase their physician staffs and mid-level providers over the next year.  “These data are consistent with the labor market shift in physician employment that has been occurring over the past few years,” said Kim Mobley, practice leader for physician compensation.  “We expect this trend to continue for some time.  This shift in the labor market has resulted in what has become a highly competitive market for physicians as organizations and physicians align to provide services in a high quality, more efficient manner.”

Healthcare Jobs Still the Fastest-Growing Sector

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Job growth in the healthcare profession seems to be virtually recession-proof. In Florida, a state with a sizeable percentage of senior citizens, there are about 960,000 healthcare and social assistance jobs, approximately 13 percent of all nonfarm payroll positions in the state.

Some experts are not as optimistic about job growth in the healthcare sector.  “Reform may accelerate the trend toward healthcare’s being the dominant employment sector in the economy,” according to a recent New England Journal of Medicine (now known as NEJM) article.  A significant amount of the growth in healthcare that result from reform might be in support positions, rather than physicians and nurses, several economists said.  “As for jobs for health professionals, I doubt that this will or can increase the number of doctors or nurses.  While there will be greater demand for their services, there will also be offsetting effects as medically unnecessarily procedures are paid less,” said Amitabh Chandra, an economist and public-policy professor at Harvard University.

As the insured population grows under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), healthcare workers will be in high demand.  These gains come on the heels of growth already required to serve an aging population.  In Florida, the aging population’s impact on healthcare employment is more dramatic than in the rest of the country: about 17 percent of the state’s population is older than 65, compared with a 13 percent average in the other states., according to the Census Bureau.

Other experts are far more sanguine about healthcare’s ability to create jobs.  “The big places we waste money is patients who are discharged and there’s not a lot of follow up and they end up in the hospital a month later,” said Leemore Dafny, an economist at Northwestern University whose expertise is competition in healthcare markets.  According to Dafny, reform will create new primary-care physicians and physician “extenders,” such as nurse practitioners; at the same time, it could decelerate growth in spending on medical specialists.  “If the ACA is repealed, it will be business as usual — except that more of the population is now uninsured — so the demand for primary-care professionals will increase much more slowly,” said Dafny.

In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the healthcare sector for some time has provided about the only bright spot in an otherwise drab report on job growth.  Healthcare employment created 205,100 new jobs in the first eight months of 2011.  Approximately 14.1 million people are employed in the healthcare sector with more than 4.7 million jobs at hospitals; more than 6.1 million jobs in ambulatory services; and more than 2.3 million jobs in physicians’ offices, according to BLS statistics.

According to Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Mark Pinsky, president and CEO of the Opportunity Finance Network, “The current economic recovery effort presents an opportunity to build stronger, healthier communities.  That’s a central goal, for example, of the Create Jobs for USA Fund that the OFN and Starbucks launched late last year to support job creation and retention.  Economic growth and job creation provide more than income and the ability to afford health insurance and medical care.  They also enable us to live in safer homes and neighborhoods, buy healthier food, have more leisure time for physical activity, and experience less health-harming stress.  The research clearly shows that health starts in our homes and communities and not in the doctor’s office.  In that way, economic policy is, in fact, health policy.  The end goal?  Create and sustain job growth across the country.  Improve communities.  Improve health.  Give people the opportunities to make smart, healthy decisions so that they can act in the best interests of their communities, themselves, and future generations.”

Healthcare added 17,200 jobs in November of 2011, an increase over the 11,600 jobs reported in October, according to BLS data.  Healthcare accounted for 14.3 percent of 120,000 new jobs created across all sectors in November.  On the whole, healthcare represented 24 percent of the 1.2 million non-farm jobs created this year and is expected to create 321,000 new jobs by year’s end.  That represents a 22 percent increase over the 263,400 healthcare jobs created in 2011.

Healthcare Hiring a Light Among Dismal Job Creation

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

The one bright spot in an August when no new jobs were created was healthcare, which saw nearly 30,000 new jobs added nationally.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Katherine Hobson notes that “The healthcare sector, however, continued to add jobs last month — some 29,700 positions, on top of a revised 29,800 new positions in July.  Here’s the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) chart  with all the details.  As you can see, while jobs were added, growth was only about 0.2 percent from July’s base of about 14.1 million jobs.  Where exactly are those jobs coming from?  That was a popular question when we reported on the healthcare industry job growth seen in July.  The stats permit us to see the specific industries that are hiring, but not the specific jobs.  The BLS classifies under healthcare ambulatory healthcare services — which includes doctors’ offices, outpatient-care centers and home healthcare services — hospitals and nursing and residential-care facilities.  Ambulatory services added 18,100 jobs in August, with doctors’ offices adding 5,600 positions, outpatient centers 1,400 jobs and home healthcare 6,300 positions.  Hospitals, in the meantime added 7,700 jobs while nursing and residential-care facilities added 3,900.  Nursing homes specifically didn’t add any new jobs last month.”

Online job ads for healthcare staff rose in August, according The Conference Board Help Wanted Online report.  Healthcare practitioners and technicians posted 26,300 new job opportunities to total 513,700 in August – -the only gains among the top 10 occupation groups in the overall economy.  At the same time, labor demand for healthcare practitioners and technicians has declined 98,800 since January.  The expansion in job opportunities for healthcare practitioners and technicians is consistent with the BLS prediction that the healthcare industry will be among the biggest drivers of job growth in the U.S. for the remainder of the decade.  According to the BLS, more than 25 percent of new jobs will come from robust job creation in home health and personal care aides. 

“The unemployment rate remains unacceptably high and faster growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn,” said Austan Goolsbee, former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. “Bipartisan action is needed to help the private sector and the economy grow–such as measures to extend both the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, as well as passing the pending free trade agreements with re-employment assistance for displaced workers, the patent reform bill, and a bipartisan infrastructure bill to help put Americans back to work.” 

More than 14.1 million Americans are employed in the healthcare sector; approximately 6.2 million are in ambulatory healthcare services; another 4.8 million work in hospitals; and 3.2 million work in nursing and residential-care facilities.  In recent months, the growth rate of ambulatory-care jobs has largely been twice the job growth rate at hospitals.  Ambulatory-care jobs have grown by 2.9 percent since last year, while hospital jobs have grown 1.6 percent.  While BLS revised down hospitals’ job gains from July — suggesting that hospitals only added 11,000 jobs, rather than 14,000 — the agency also revised up its estimates on hiring at ambulatory-care facilities.  According to BLS, ambulatory care added 35,300 jobs since the beginning of July.

I Just Graduated in Nursing. Where’s My Job?

Monday, May 9th, 2011

This spring’s class of nursing school graduates are running into an unexpected roadblock.  The dream jobs that they thought would be waiting for them are hard to find.  According to Rhys Gibson, “I mean I thought I was the cat’s meow and everything, because I’m an African-American guy coming out of here – I was waiting for the red carpet, I had the grades, had the experience, to an extent but not the practical experience as a nurse working on the floor.  There isn’t a whole lot of money, even on my unit, I was lucky enough to make it in when I did because there hasn’t been another RN1 since and that was December ’09 when I got that job offer.”  Gibson has applied for hundreds of jobs and finally founded a job as a nurse on a geriatric psychiatry ward at Rush University Medical Center.  He is just one of thousands of people who entered nursing schools in Illinois in recent years, many in response to a drumbeat of news about a looming nurse shortage.

According to Cathy Grossi of the Illinois Hospital Association, “There’s been a concerted effort led by the Illinois Center for Nursing to expand the capacity of the educational programming across Illinois to accommodate student interest for nursing education. So we’ve increased capacity around the state about 25 percent.  That’s since 2006. But then the recession hit in 2007.  And while it’s officially been over since 2009, the effects have been deep and long-lasting, even in healthcare – one of the brighter growth areas of the economy.  We are now experiencing an increase in the number of graduates coupled with the time temporarily where there’s probably not as much opportunity as there was in the past.”  According to Grossi, nurse vacancies at Illinois hospitals fell by more than half from 2008 to 2010.

Although the nursing shortage has eased slightly for the time being, it is not going away. The recession brought a temporary reprieve because nurses who were close to retirement have seen their 401(k) portfolios decline.  As a result, they are postponing retirement a few more years until the economy — and their portfolios — recover.  Other nurses have seen their spouses or partners laid off and so have increased their hours to make ends.  Some who left the profession to care for children or for other reasons have started working again to pay the bills.  Additionally, many hospitals are not hiring.  The recession brought hiring freezes to healthcare facilities, and many are still in effect.  Help wanted ads for healthcare professionals dropped by 18,400 listings in July of 2010, even as the overall economy saw a modest increase of 139,200 in online job listings.

Even so, healthcare remains one of the economy’s healthiest industries. On April 1, 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the healthcare sector is growing, despite significant job losses in recent months in nearly all major industries.  Hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other ambulatory care settings added 37,000 new jobs in March 2011, the largest monthly increase recorded by any sector.  As the largest segment of the healthcare workforce, registered nurses will be recruited to fill many of these new positions.  The BLS confirms that 283,000 jobs have been added in the healthcare sector in the last 12 months.

The nursing shortage will regain momentum because of the impending baby boom retirement crisis.  When you consider that the majority of registered nurses are over the age of 55, and that they will soon be retiring as well, the terms ‘crisis’ and ‘nursing shortage’ will become even more significant in coming few years.  The nursing shortage is expected to also be influenced by the fact that nursing jobs will grow by 22 percent from 2008 to 2018, according to the BLS.  Add in the fact that the nursing work force is aging and nursing schools aren’t graduating nearly enough nurses to fill the healthcare industry’s requirements, and the growing nursing shortage can be described as a “perfect storm”.

“Moving into the future, we see a very large shortage of nurses, about 300,000,” said Peter Buerhaus, a nurse and health-care economist and a professor at Vanderbilt University.  “That number does not account for the demand created by reform. That’s a knockout number. It knocks the system down.  It stops it.  I think the big story is…the future of nursing is dominated by aging baby-boomer nurses who are going to retire, and we are looking at massive shortages,” Buerhaus said.

AARP Slams Rising Brand-Name Drug Prices

Monday, September 13th, 2010

AARP says brand-name drugs prescribed to senior citizens rose 8.3 percent in 2009, despite the recession.  The 217 most commonly used brand-name drugs prescribed to senior citizens rose in price by 8.3 percent in 2009, according to a new study by AARP. What is especially startling about this number is that the largest increase in years occurred in a deflationary time.  Retail prices for the most popular brand-name drugs have risen 41.5 percent over the last five years.  Contrast that with the Consumer Price Index, which increased just 13.3 percent during the same timeframe.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers are disputing the numbers, claiming that select brand-name prices did not account for the fact that more people are using lower-priced generic drugs.  Generics make up approximately 75 percent of all prescriptions filled in the United States, according to research firm IMS Health.  The pharmaceutical industry cited a government survey that showed drug prices rose by just 3.4 percent during 2009.  According to Jonathan Church, an economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, his study included generic and brand-name drug prices.

John A. Vernon, an assistant professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, lauded AARP for adapting its methodology to count retail prices instead of wholesale.  Still, he noted, the study is flawed.  “It can be shown that branded prices are higher here than they are in other countries, but we have the lowest and the most competitively priced generic drugs in the world, and the generic share is going up rapidly,” he said.  “Just focusing on brands I think is unfair.”

John C. Rother, AARP’s senior vice president for policy and strategy, is in agreement that generic drug prices have been stable or even fallen.  He added that the new retail price analysis demonstrates why many older Americans still struggle to pay for brand-name drugs they need to manage chronic medical conditions.  “Brand-name retail prices have been accelerating year-to-year even when inflation has been nonexistent in the rest of the economy,” he said.

The Pharmacist Is In.

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Another sign of the healthcare industry’s growth trajectory is the news that Roosevelt University is opening a College of Pharmacy at its Schaumburg, IL, campus.  According to Dean George MacKinnon III, the college’s initial courses will begin in the fall of 2011 and enroll approximately 65 students.

Pharmacology is a high-demand, well-paying field, thanks to the aging American population and the healthcare industry’s increasing dependence on prescription drugs.  The United States spends $986 million annually on prescription42-18496211 drugs – the highest in the world.  Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that pharmacy jobs will grow by 22 percent between 2006 and 2016 – a rate that translates to solid career prospects in a demanding field.

Michael Patton, executive director of the Illinois Pharmacists Association, notes that the shortage of qualified pharmacists means that new graduates can easily find $100,000 a year jobs with very little effort.  They may be aggressively recruited by nationally branded pharmacy companies that offer lucrative incentive packages such as signing bonuses and student loan repayment programs.

Roosevelt is speeding up the training process by offering a three-year program versus the traditional four-year curriculum.  With tuition expected to run between $30,000 and $40,000 per year, this will let new pharmacists enter the workforce sooner rather than later.