In the 20th century and the first decades of the 21st century, retail and manufacturing were the largest job providers in the United States. But by 2018, healthcare reigned supreme. Over the course of almost 20 years, manufacturing and retail yielded more than 7 million and 2.4 million jobs, respectively, to the healthcare industry, which now employs more than 18 million people in the country. Even after numerous revisions to the Affordable Care Act and uncertainty over how the government will handle future healthcare policies, the industry has still managed to add an average of 24,000 jobs per month, and statistics point to even further growth:
But what is driving this growth in healthcare hiring? Here are five trends that drive healthcare recruitment in the U.S.:
As noted above, the population is aging as baby boomers become the largest generation to ever reach retirement age. It’s common knowledge that as we age, we need more in terms of medical care – but the numbers are striking. More than two-thirds of older Americans suffer from multiple chronic conditions, while people over 65 on average stay in the hospital three times as long as those under 65. That number then jumps to four times as long when people reach age 75, at which time they’re more likely to need care at a skilled nursing care center or assisted living facility.
Unfortunately, as the population ages, so does its healthcare professionals. The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) estimates that more than a third of practicing physicians will turn 65 by the year 2027, which could mean a shortage of more than 100,000 physicians by 2030. This shortage presents a recruitment challenge as older healthcare professionals retire and are replaced by those with significantly less experience, leading to hard-to-fill job openings.
Estimates show healthcare spending will reach $5.7 trillion by 2026, which includes money spent on medication and medical equipment. However, it’s believed that those expenditures will pale in comparison to the amount spent on the growing healthcare workforce during that time.
Looking from a different angle, there’s reason to believe healthcare hiring will continue to expand. The U.S. government subsidizes healthcare in the form of Medicare, Medicaid, VA benefits and tax breaks for employers that provide health insurance options. This protection allows the healthcare industry to grow even during economic downturns, evidenced by the fact that the industry actually thrived during the Great Recession.
Most other industries contend with new realities brought on by automation, but healthcare remains resistant. Healthcare professionals may soon depend on AI for tasks like scheduling and hospital admissions and discharges, but doctors and nurses cannot be replaced. It’s impossible for a computer to replicate the personal touch and expert intuition that comes with several years of education and medical practice.
Globalization has brought several opportunities and challenges to industries like manufacturing, but the need for local healthcare services means that a professional workforce will always be in demand. While telehealth may be enough for a mild sickness, patients with any serious conditions must be seen in person by a healthcare professional. As the population ages and moves to retiree-friendly states, you may see more healthcare professionals following them.
These trends point to exponential growth in the healthcare industry and present both opportunities and challenges for recruitment teams. Read our Healthcare Recruitment Report to learn how your team can hire hard-to-fill roles faster, address high employee turnover exacerbated by retirement and hire the right staff to improve patient satisfaction rates.