A new analysis by the Brookings Institute has discovered this eye-popping statistic: in the last ten years, the US health care industry has created jobs at a rate ten times faster than the entire rest of the economy. Here’s that number in visual form, via the Atlantic:
Those worried about the future of employment in America—for themselves or for the country as a whole—should look to this data. As of now, many of the jobs of the future are going to be health care jobs, and that will only become more true if Obamacare stands and the pool of insured patients expands dramatically. To understand what the jobs of the future will be (or to land one), go where the money is: services, and especially, according to this data, health services.
For those unlikely to take up health jobs, this graph might seem discouraging. After all, more doctors and health workers points to more health care costs, in a system that’s already vastly too expensive. As the Atlantic points out on its piece on the graph, “There are a couple stories that branch off from this graph. One is the unchecked growth in health care prices over the last few decades, which has made the medical industry the one truly recession-proof job engine of the economy.”
But there’s also a case of optimism here. The Atlantic notes that the two kinds of health care jobs most likely to grow in coming decades are personal health aides and home health workers. This is good news even on its own; achieving a better balance between hospital care and home care is an important task for health care reformers. Moreover, it means there’s a lot of room for entrepreneurial individuals to come up with new and creative ways to cater to a growing demand for personalized health care.
But it is also good news for costs. If the responsibility for most primary care shifts from doctors to nurse practitioners and health home workers armed with cutting-edge medical tech, the price of health care could actually come down, at least with respect to personnel costs. Nurse practitioners and home health workers are paid well, but still much less than doctors are.
If new health care jobs are going to these kind of workers rather than doctors, our system could become cheaper, more efficient, and more personalized. That would be a win-win situation for everyone, and some welcome progress in improving our dysfunctional system.