The health care and social assistance sector has been a main driver of Ohio’s job growth, and it could remain that way since the sector will lead the nation in employment gains in the next decade, according to new labor projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Health care and social assistance is projected to create five million new jobs nationwide by 2022, the bureau said. Nearly half of the 30 projected fastest-growing U.S. occupations are in health care.
Health care and social assistance employs more Ohio workers than any other sector, and the state more heavily relies on these areas for jobs than most of the country.
Continued health care growth will translate into more jobs for Ohio workers, according to some groups.
“At this point, there is no reason to expect that the growth in health care and social assistance jobs will slow in Ohio,” said Benjamin Johnson, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
But some labor experts said they believe the government’s employment projections are inflated, and hiring will have to slow down because otherwise it will outpace demand for medical services and providers will not be able to bring rising costs under control.
“If health care continues to grow as rapidly as it has in the recent past, then you really have to be concerned about our ability to pay for it and the effectiveness of any sort of health care reform,” said Edward Hill, dean and professor at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.
Ohio’s health care and social assistance sector has been a powerhouse of hiring for years, with payrolls increasing annually since at least 1990, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
The sector employed 765,200 Ohio workers in November, which was down slightly from the summer of 2013, but up 10,600 from November 2012, the data show.
The U.S. recession officially ended in June 2009, but the sector continued adding jobs during the economic downturn.
Since the recovery began, Ohio has added about 147,400 jobs, one-third of which were in health care and social assistance, according to seasonally adjusted federal labor data.
In 2012, the sector employed more than 17 percent of Ohio workers, the data show. Ohio also had a greater share of workers employed in these areas than all but nine other states, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Caring for elderly
The health care industry is expected to remain a strong source of job creation.
Between 2012 and 2022, the U.S. economy is projected to create 15.6 million new jobs, 5 million of which will be health care and social assistance, according to federal projections released last month.
Health care and social assistance will create more jobs than any other sector in the next decade, and it is tied with the construction field for the highest annual rate of job growth (2.6 percent), the projections show.
The bureau said the growth partly reflects the changing needs of an aging population.
Older residents tend to use more medical services, and shifting demographics should lead to increased demand for home health care services and jobs related to health information technology and data analytics, said Bryan Bucklew, president and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association.
Uninsured residents often skip routine checkups, health screenings and preventative care, choosing only to seek treatment when they are sick or injured.
But more Ohioans are expected to have health care coverage, and insured residents typically use medical services more frequently, Bucklew said.
“I think you’ll see some (employment) areas decrease, but I think the health care industry overall will continue to see an increase,” he said.
The health care industry provides economic benefits beyond just its payrolls.
Hospitals, for example, buy countless goods and services in their communities, and every dollar spent by a hospital supports about $2.30 of additional business activity, according to the American Hospital Association.
Ohio’s hospitals employed almost 282,000 workers in 2011, but they also supported 620,000 other jobs in the state, said John Palmer, spokesman for the Ohio Hospital Association.
Ohio hospitals helped pump about $73.4 billion into the state’s economy in 2011.
“They don’t just provide health care, they also stimulate Ohio’s economy,” Palmer said.
Will demand creat jobs?
Health care employment will continue rising in coming years — especially low-skilled positions that serve the elderly — but the bureau’s job estimates are “straight-line projections, which say your future is your past,” said Hill, with the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs.
Hill said the future will be different because the health care industry’s growth rate is unsustainable. He said medical providers are already consolidating their operations to reduce costs and improve efficiencies.
“I would be surprised that if 10 years out we find the growth rate is anything like what is projected, because that would mean that all health care-cost restraints didn’t work and, low and behold, we can’t afford American society anymore,” he said.
Earlier this year, Catholic Health Partners, one of Ohio’s largest employers, announced plans to restructure as the industry changes from a fee-for-service system to one that pays providers based on quality of care delivered.
Mike Boehmer, a spokesman for the Cincinnati-based group that employs about 33,000 people in Ohio and Kentucky, previously said it was “consolidating system functions and repositioning our workforce.” He said some jobs would be eliminated, but Catholic Health would also hire in other areas.
Growing demand for health care will lead to job growth, but future health care jobs will be different than they are today, said Bob Kocher, a partner at Venrock, which is a venture capital firm based in Palo Alto, Calif., that has a focus on health care and technology.
Health care is likely to become far more efficient in the next 20 years as it undergoes changes similar to those seen in manufacturing and other sectors, which occurred as employers adopted new technology and harnessed data to improve productivity, said Kocher, who also is a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution Engelberg Center for Health Reform.
“Care will be better when we get all the wasted time, tasks, rework out of care processes,” he said.
Tim Dutton, vice president of human resources with the Kettering Health Network, said he also believes the labor department’s projections are too high.
He said the aging population will grow “volume,” but health care reform will put more focus on quality and outcomes, which could lead to a reduction in employment.
“We will not know how large the volume will be until some of the uncertainty around healthcare reform becomes clearer,” he said.
Kettering Health Network posted the most job-opening ads online between mid-October and mid-November in western Ohio, according to a state report released last month.
“We expect increased job growth in certain areas of our organization including nursing, physician extenders (nurse practitioners, physician assistants) and rehabilitation professionals,” Dutton said.
By Cornelius Frolik - Dayton Daily News, Ohio (MCT)
©2014 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)
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