As spending on health care accounts for a higher percentage of GDP, the health sector is a major and rapidly growing source of employment for U.S. workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2006), and as shown in Table 2 below, the health care sector employed over 10 million workers in 2006. Over the period 1998 to 2006, employment in the health care sector grew by a staggering 21%. In contrast during this period of rising health care costs, employment across all occupations grew by only 6%. Further, according to projections made by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), home health aides are likely to be the fastest growing occupation category over the next decade growing by as much as 56% between 2004 and 2014 (Hecker, 2005). Hence, the healthcare sector can have a major impact on the local economy. For example, a recent Business Week article reports that since 2001, 1.7 million new jobs have been added in the health care sector, which includes related industries such as pharmaceuticals and health insurance; in contrast, the number of private sector jobs outside of health care is no higher than it was five years ago. With expenditures of more than $2 trillion, health care supports local job markets in the northeast, midwest, and south – the regions hit hardest by globalization and the collapse of manufacturing.
Conversely, researchers have found that government deficit spending, e.g. to finance public health expenditures, disproportionately harms export and capital goods industries, whereas payroll tax financing disproportionately harms consumer service industries (Monaco and Phelps, 1995).
|Healthcare as a percentage of total employment|
|Source: Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor Available at: http://www.bls.gov/oes/oes_dl.htm|