Is Obamacare Finally Juicing Healthcare Jobs?

Last week’s employment report¬†showed good growth, and jobs in health care were a big part of it (Table 1). Total nonfarm payroll increased by 257, 000, of which 38,000 (15 percent) were jobs in health care. Job growth in healthcare was 0.26 percent, month on month, versus only 0.17 percent for nonfarm, non-health jobs.

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The January report shows a significant change from December, for which I noted that health jobs were growing sluggishly. Further, the January report shows that two thirds of the growth in health jobs was in hospitals, which added 26,000 of the new health jobs. I suspect that this is a bad sign: Hospitals are the least efficient places for much of health care, abusing their emergency departments for profit. For many months, job growth in other health facilities was stronger, indicating that care was shifting to more efficient ambulatory locations.

If this trend has now broken, it would be an unsurprising effect of Obamacare, which purports to motivate innovative care, but actually sustains old, inefficient models with oodles of federal money. It may be too early to sound the alarm that hospitals are recovering their market share. After all, physicians’ offices also showed strong growth. Table 2, which shows health jobs growth over the last concentrated in hospitals, over the long term.

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It is a situation that bears monitoring, because high jobs growth in hospitals increases their political power, which they often use to block reforms that would cut costs.

 

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  1. Barnett W says:

    Many of those that chose the medical and paramedic field to have very stressful jobs. However I have family that works in the medical field, and they certainly are prospering in this economy. It will be interesting to see how long the growth of hospital employment will exceed non farm related work.