Healthcare jobs to outpace all other industries in most states

A recent study from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce shows that the coming years will see job openings growing faster in healthcare than in all other industries in 46 out of 50 states, and in the District of Columbia. Technology will be a key driver of this growth.

More than 80 percent of healthcare jobs will require postsecondary education by 2020, the study finds; those with the highest educational requirements will be in professional and technical positions.

Given the deep cuts to education spending by states in recent years, there is well-founded anxiety about whether the U.S. will be able to produce the number of trained healthcare workers needed to meet the projected demand in the coming decade, Georgetown researchers note.

"Failure to prepare an adequately trained healthcare workforce will have serious consequences beyond the economy," said Director and Research Professor Anthony P. Carnevale, the report's lead author. "Access to care, quality of care and patient safety are what's at stake."

[See also: Tips for winning the IT 'talent war'.]

Among the study's other findings:

  • Labor productivity in healthcare is among the worst in the overall economy. Since 1990, healthcare has been one of the few industries where productivity actually declined.
  • Healthcare has the largest number and proportion of foreign-born and foreign-trained workers in the U.S. Among healthcare workers 22 percent are foreign born, compared to 13 percent of all workers nationally. Most foreign-born nurses come from the Philippines, India and China.
  • The fastest healthcare growth is set for Georgia (38 percent) and Utah (38 percent), according to the Georgetown study. But the industry will be especially dominant in Northeastern states' economies. In Rhode Island, New York, Maine, and Massachusetts healthcare workers will make up 15 percent or more of the workforce by 2020, compared to the national average of 12 percent.
  • Physicians and surgeons make up the largest share of workers in the top 1 percent of incomes. In Minnesota people in these occupations earn the highest average annual wages ($225,410), while those in Nebraska earn the lowest ($146,160).
  • California and New York award the largest number of healthcare degrees. In 2010, California awarded the most healthcare degrees (34,600) and the most degrees in nursing (13,510), while New York awarded second most healthcare degrees (31,910) and the most degrees in medicine (1,710).

[See also: 6 most in-demand skills for HIT professionals in 2012.]

Job opportunities will vary from state to state, according to the Georgetown report. New Jersey (15 percent), Maryland (14 percent), New York (14 percent), Oregon (14 percent) and California (13 percent) will have the highest concentration of doctors. Mississippi (34 percent), Alabama (33 percent), Tennessee (33 percent), Arkansas (32 percent) and Louisiana (32 percent) will have the highest concentration of opportunities for nurses. Alaska (31 percent) and Vermont (30 percent) will have the highest share of allied health professionals. New York (40 percent) and North Dakota (40 percent) will have largest share of healthcare support paraprofessionals.

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