Healthcare Jobs Explode in Next Decade: New Federal Study

healthcare jobs jan HB

Healthcare will “have the fastest employment growth and add the most jobs between 2014 and 2024,” says the first line of the announcement of new Employment Projections by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In fact, healthcare will become the largest employment sector of the U.S. economy, overtaking government and the business and professional service sectors.

Healthcare practitioners, technical occupations and support occupations will represent 1 in 4 new jobs. The combined increase in employment will be 2.3 million new jobs. But the available job openings will actually be far greater, according to the BLS Employment Projections, released in December 2015.

By 2024, healthcare job openings due to growth and replacement needs will be 5,069,200 – nearly 5.1 million jobs to fill. Among the notable projections for job openings:

  • 1,088,400 registered nurses
  • 1,040,400 health technologists and technicians
  • 311,200 therapists
  • 290,000 physicians and surgeons
  • 78,000 pharmacists
  • 75,000 nurse practitioners
  • 58,000 dentists
  • 50,000 physician assistants

An Industry in Dynamic Growth

The incredible growth in healthcare jobs is due to the wall-to-wall expansion in the healthcare industry. Virtually all components of healthcare are growing. Between 2014-2024, employment in the healthcare industry will grow at 21%, while in the next fastest-growing sector, construction, employment will grow at 13%.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment for 206 industries. The top five fastest growing industries in the nation, in terms of percent growth in employment, will be healthcare industries:

  • Home healthcare services – 60%
  • Outpatient care centers – 49%
  • Offices of other health practitioners – 45%
    *except physicians & dentists
  • Other ambulatory healthcare services – 40%
    *Except physicians, dentists, and other health practitioners; outpatient care centers; medical laboratories and diagnostic imaging centers; and home health care providers
  • Medical and diagnostic laboratories – 32%

Other healthcare industries also are on the list:

  • Nursing and residential care facilities – 23%
  • Offices of physicians – 21%
  • Offices of dentists – 18%

The list of industries with the most new jobs also includes healthcare:

  • Home healthcare services – 760,400
  • Nursing and residential care facilities – 735,700
  • Offices of physicians – 522,700
  • Hospitals – 394,900
  • Outpatient care centers – 348,100

These lists mirror many healthcare trends, such as the rise in accountable care, increasing home healthcare utilization and the aging of our population raising employment at nursing facilities. But, hospitals will increase employment by nearly 400,000, a significant rise for an industry sector that many thought would undergo retrenchment due to the movement toward cost containment and outpatient care. However, it is apparent that the strong rise in demand for health services is pervasive throughout the industry.

How Will All These Jobs be Filled?

The healthcare staffing and workforce solutions industry sector is already seeing demand for healthcare professionals outstrip supply. Additionally, most projections for future supply of new physicians, nurses and allied health professionals do not reach the numbers of job openings in the BLS Employment Projections.

A 2014 study by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration on the nursing workforce projected that the RN supply would grow by 952,000 between 2012-2025. The BLS Employment Projections say there will be 1,088,400 RN job openings from 2014-2024.

The American Physical Therapy Association says that the number of licensed physical therapists will rise from about 192,000 in 2015 to between 203,000 to 234,000 in 2020, or about 11,000 to 42,000 new therapists. The BLS projects there will be 128,300 job openings for physical therapists between 2014-2024.

For physicians, the American Association of Medical Colleges predicts a shortfall of 46,000 to 90,000 by 2025, due to total physician demand growing by 86,700 to 133,200 between 2013-2025. The BLS Employment Projections say that physician job openings due to growth and replacement needs will be 290,000 from 2014-2024.

Over the next decade, hiring enough quality healthcare professionals and optimizing clinical staff to cover the rising demand for patient services will be among the biggest challenges facing the healthcare industry. Most healthcare providers do not have the capacity or expertise in workforce solutions to keep up with the intensely competitive and rapidly changing healthcare environment. Partnering with healthcare workforce experts will be essential to success.