Health­care sec­tor drives yearly job growth

Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS - —Shelby Liv­ingston

Health­care cre­ated more jobs than any other sec­tor in 2016, help­ing to drive to­tal an­nual job growth to 2.2 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to data from the Bureau of La­bor Statis­tics. In De­cem­ber alone, health­care added 43,200 jobs—a good chunk of the 156,000 to­tal non­farm jobs added last month. Year over year, health­care added 406,600 jobs. The in­dus­try ac­counted for 15.8 mil­lion jobs at the end of De­cem­ber.

Most of the growth in health­care oc­curred in am­bu­la­tory-care ser­vices, which added 29,700 jobs, fol­lowed by hos­pi­tals, which added 10,700.

In 2016, the health­care in­dus­try grew by 35,000 jobs per month on av­er­age. That’s slightly less that in 2015, when jobs in the sec­tor grew by an av­er­age of 39,000 a month, ac­cord­ing to the fed­eral data. In 2015, 2.7 mil­lion jobs were cre­ated.

The un­em­ploy­ment rate ticked up slightly to 4.7% in De­cem­ber from 4.6% in Novem­ber.

While health­care has con­tin­u­ously been the lead­ing job-pro­ducer, that may change if the Af­ford­able Care Act is re­pealed. A re­port re­leased late last week by the Com­mon­wealth Fund and the Milken In­sti­tute School of Pub­lic Health at Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity found that re­peal­ing key pro­vi­sions of the Af­ford­able Care Act, in­clud­ing the in­sur­ance pre­mium tax cred­its and Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion, could lead to 2.6 mil­lion peo­ple los­ing jobs in 2019. By 2021, nearly 3 mil­lion jobs in health­care and other sec­tors could be lost.

A third of those lost jobs would be in health­care, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. If the ACA is re­pealed and mil­lions of peo­ple lose in­sur­ance, hos­pi­tals and other health­care providers would see un­com­pen­sated care soar, which would lead to lost rev­enue and con­se­quently, job losses.

“Re­peal­ing key parts of the ACA could trig­ger mas­sive job losses and a slump in con­sumer and busi­ness spend­ing that would af­fect all sec­tors of state economies,” Milken In­sti­tute’s Leighton Ku, lead au­thor of the study, said in a state­ment. “Cuts in fed­eral fund­ing would not only harm the health­care in­dus­try and its em­ploy­ees but could lead to se­ri­ous eco­nomic dis­tress for states, in­clud­ing a $1.5 tril­lion re­duc­tion in gross state prod­uct from 2019 to 2023.”

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