Economy Watch: Healthcare Industry Large, Getting Larger

Healthcare occupations make up nearly 9 percent of of national employment, and are expected to grow even more as the population ages.

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the official U.S. employment numbers for March. As usual, Automated Data Processing took a stab at calculating private employment growth, and published its numbers ahead of the BLS calculations. According to ADP, the private economy created 200,000 jobs in March, with 17,000 of those in construction.

Also ahead of its monthly tabulations, the BLS released a more specialized report, the Occupational Employment and Wages Summary, in which its data analyzes employment and paid conditions for various industries (as of mid-2015). One of the major employment categories discussed in the report is healthcare, and its sheer size, among other things, has positive implications for healthcare real estate growth.

Healthcare occupations had total employment of 12 million in May 2015, or nearly 9 percent of national employment, according to the BLS. Registered nurses, with more than 2.7 million jobs, was the largest healthcare occupation. The largest healthcare occupations also included nursing assistants (1.4 million), home health aides (820,630), and licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (697,250).

Thus the healthcare field is already very large, and it’s expected to grow even more as the population ages. The Census Bureau estimated recently that the number of Americans 65 and older will nearly double between 2012 and 2050, when that age group will make up more than a fifth of the population. By comparison, fewer than 10 percent of Americans were older than 65 in 1970.