The Healthcare Jobs Concern

The October jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed unemployment inching up from 7.2 percent in the September report to 7.3 percent today.  That, however, wasn’t the most significant concern emerging from those numbers.

The healthcare industry added about 15,000 jobs in October, slightly lower than 17,000 jobs-per-month average we’ve seen so far this year and significantly below the average monthly increase of 27,000 in 2012.

Yes, healthcare is still proving to be a vital job-creating engine for our nation’s economy, but the concern at hand is whether job growth in the various health professions will keep pace with escalating demands caused by Affordable Care Act health exchange enrollments, Medicaid expansion and the aging of the U.S. population.

There has been a great deal written about our society’s increasing need for doctors as health services utilization stays on an upward trend, but it’s not just physicians.  The current and potential healthcare workforce shortages extend to all parts of the workforce, from nurses to pharmacists to researchers.

The multi-sector membership of the Healthcare Leadership Council is actively engaged on this issue.

During meetings with members of Congress and congressional candidates, HLC has consistently emphasized workforce shortages and the corresponding need for more interest and participation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education; realignment of incentives to encourage more integrated, coordinated team care; and adequate payments for hospitals, clinics, doctors, laboratories and other providers.

This month, we will be bringing together representatives from our member companies and organizations for in-depth discussions on how multiple sectors can bring their particular insights to this challenge and to focus on the public policy steps that could help alleviate the healthcare workforce shortages – shortages that are likely to be exacerbated in the very immediate future.