Health care as an industry has always been a big deal in the U.S. Now, it’s really big — as in largest-American-employer big.

Manufacturing and retail, the stalwart behemoths of 20th century employers, have been demoted as health care hiring has claimed the top spot. According to The Atlantic news magazine, the health care industry rose to become the nation’s leading job engine as of the last quarter of 2017.

Reaching the top spot has been years in the making for the health care industry. Manufacturing beat out health care in number of workers employed in 2000, boasting 7 million more jobs than the health care sector during that year. Seven years on, the Great Recession began to clench American wallets; and yet the retail industry still held 2.5 million more jobs than did health care, the Atlantic reported. By the close of 2017, however, health care had made its move, adding 300,000 jobs during the year. In the ensuing months, the health care sector added another 115,000 jobs to its roster, an average of 23,000 new hires per month through May 2018.

The upward trend in health care hiring shows no signs of lessening. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts hiring in health care occupations will grow by 18% through 2026, a rate exceeding any other American industry. Health care employers will add about 2.4 million new jobs in less than a decade, the agency says. It’s estimated as much as a third of all new jobs in a growing U.S. economy will be health care-related.

What’s Behind the Surge in Health Care Hiring?

The same reasons that account for the diminished economic stature of manufacturing and other industries also ensure the growth and stability of health care jobs.

Globalization and technology, for example, appear to be shortening the lifespan of manufacturing and retail employment; but these trends have tended to have little effect on jobs in the health care sector. Health care after all is (for the most part) a native service; it doesn’t regularly operate on an international scale. While hospitals and other health care facilities compete with one another for both patients and top clinical talent, they do so within their own neighborhoods, even though those neighborhoods might stretch beyond the surrounding community to a state, region, or the entire country. A California hospital, for instance, wouldn’t typically recruit patients from, say, Croatia or Thailand, nor would it refer its patients to Kenya or Peru. And although robotics has made its way into the surgical suite, home health, and other health care specialties, the advent of automation and artificial intelligence that has supplanted jobs in other industries isn’t likely to replace clinicians anytime soon. For the foreseeable future, human caregiving will require human caregivers.

And a lot of care will be needed. Americans, on the whole, have grown older. Of the many factors that shape the U.S. economy, the so-called silver tsunami of Americans over age 55 stands out. By 2024, the baby boom generation will have reached ages 60 to 78; most will have withdrawn from the workforce by that time, particularly in fields such as manufacturing that cannot accommodate the physical decline that comes with age. At more than 71 million strong by 2029, these older Americans will make up about a quarter of the U.S. population; and the cohort’s advancing age will directly correspond to rising incidence of chronic disease requiring health care services. More care needs will require more care workers.

As the greying of American unfolds, strong public support for health care spending — in Medicare, Medicaid, and subsidies for employers and insurers — also virtually guarantees the strength and stability of health care careers. Experts expect that, no matter the waxing and waning of the U.S. economy, health care jobs will have staying power, even should markets take a downward turn. Health care employment, they say, is recession-proof.


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Take Advantage of Hiring Trends

With such bright prospects, a career in health care is a good choice for Americans. Although a job in health care is demanding, the rewards of caring for others in a profession that lasts throughout one’s working life can far outweigh the tough parts.

For those who embark on or continue a career in health care, their selection of employer can impact their job satisfaction and determine their own staying power in their chosen profession. Eisenhower Health, a leading California health care organization, has secured a stand-out reputation as a great place to begin and grow health care careers. As an award-winning employer, we’re known for focusing as much on our employees as we do our patients. We’re currently hiring a range of positions in our exceptional medical center and clinics. Visit our Careers page to learn how your professional contributions will be recognized and rewarded at Eisenhower Health.

Originally posted on 12/7/2018

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