More Medical Offices, Healthcare Space Needed by 2024

Healthcare occupations and industries are expected to have the fastest employment growth and to add the most jobs between 2014 and 2024.

PACANGEL-Philippines team treats almost 7,000 patientsHealthcare occupations and industries are expected to have the fastest employment growth and to add the most jobs between 2014 and 2024, Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Tuesday. With the increase in the proportion of the population in older age groups, the BLS reported, that demographic will push the demand for healthcare workers to new highs. The healthcare and social assistance sector (as the BLS calls it) is expected to become the largest employing sector during the decade ahead, overtaking both the state and local government sector and the professional and business services sector.

Healthcare and social assistance is projected to increase its employment share from 12 percent in 2014 to 13.6 percent in 2024,  the bureau predicts. Healthcare support occupations and healthcare practitioners—all of whom need specialized space to work in—and technical occupations are projected to be the fastest-growing occupational groups during the decade from 2014 to 2024. These groups will contribute the most new jobs, with a combined increase of 2.3 million in employment, representing about one in four new jobs over the 10-year span.

Among the fastest-growing occupations in the decade ahead are occupational therapy assistants and physical therapist assistants, both of which will grow more than 40 percent by 2024, the BLS predicts. Physical therapist assistants, home health aides, nurse practitioners, physical therapists and physician assistants are all projected to grow more than 30 percent. Only a handful of non-healthcare professions are expected to grow anywhere near as much as healthcare, the BLS said, such as wind turbine service technicians (whose numbers will more than double as that technology spreads), statisticians, and personal financial advisors.

These projections have a number of implications for the broader economy, government policy regarding healthcare, the insurance industry, and more—but for the moment, consider the ramifications for the sector of commercial real estate that develops, owns, and leases medical office space and other healthcare facilities. Squeezing more workers into a healthcare setting isn’t as much of an option as it is for standard office space, so as the employment base grows, the healthcare industry is going to need more space—though it’s highly unlikely to be configured as it has been in recent decades, as healthcare becomes less centralized. The trend might be a saving grace of retail space that’s being vacated as the number of stores declines.