America’s health care sector is an employment powerhouse that is keeping the US labor market strong. Health care hiring is so robust, the industry would be pretty much immune to a recession or changes in politics.
The population of the United States is aging and living longer. For the health care industry this means more people require care for a longer period of time.
“Health care is by far the largest and healthiest sector of the economy,” Glassdoor Chief Economist Dr Andrew Chamberlain told CNN Business.
And as long people continue to get sick and need care, the sector will blossom. That’s what’s making it immune to outside shocks like a recession or a government efforts to reform the industry, experts say.
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, for example, want to make drastic changes to America’s health care industry. Although reforms might change prices and payment structures for care, they won’t keep elderly people from needing it.
“I don’t worry about [potential] health care reform affecting hiring, which is mostly nurses and elderly care,” Chamberlain said.
Over the past decade no sector has added more net jobs to the US economy than health care, analysts at ratings agency Moody’s said in emailed comments.
“The growing US health care industry supports the US economy through output, employment and innovation,” said the agency’s analysts in a 2018 industry report. “The sector has created more jobs than any other industry on a net basis over the past decade — nearly three million — and today employs 16 million people, or 11% of the workforce.”
Meanwhile, the US unemployment rate is near a 50-year low and most people who want to work have a job.
Teachers for health subjects in post-secondary education, home health aides, and nurses are in the top 10 fastest-growing jobs until 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other health care jobs, including medical assistants, nurse practitioners, physical therapists and personal care aides, are expected to be among the top 20 fastest-growing jobs over the next decade, according to BLS data.
The BLS expects health care and social assistance jobs to add 3.4 million jobs by 2028. Moody’s estimate is more conservative but still high at 1.7 million jobs.
Aging populations are a global phenomenon. People are living longer and having fewer children in the United States and around the world.
By 2030, the worldwide population over 65 will account for 12% of the total, according to the US Census Bureau. That’s up from just 9% in 2015. By 2050, senior citizens will account for for 17% of the world’s population.
Europe is currently the “oldest” region in the world, but its followed by North America, which is expected to have more than 20% of people over the age of 65 by 2050. Meanwhile, America’s birthrate hit a 32-year low in May.
But the growing costs of care in America are comparatively high and rising. That, in turn, is weighing on the country’s growth prospects, according to Moody’s.