Healthcare workforce set to thrive

By Pauline Theeuws

Healthcare occupational groups are projected to be the fastest-growing industry, according to most recent predictions from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Economist Lisa Boily was invited to Rider by the Economics Club to present the employment outlook covering 2014 to 2024 on Sept. 22.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is an independent agency whose mission is to collect, process, analyze and disseminate data in the field of labor economics and statistics. The 10-year employment projections are conducted every two years, and look closely at the population and labor force growth.

The most recent predictions covered over 800 occupations and 300 industries, all kept anonymous during the presentation, and showed that the healthcare and social assistance industries are projected to grow the fastest.

Service-providing industries such as state and local government, professional and business services and healthcare and social assistance are predicted to have the most employment with over 18,000 salaried jobs.

Out of the 10 fastest-growing occupations, seven of them related to healthcare, starting with occupational therapy assistant with a rate of 42.7 percent, then followed by physical therapist assistants, physical therapist aides, home health aides, nurse practitioners, physical therapists and, finally, ambulance drivers and attendants.

According to the predictions, labor force participation is expected to continue to decline from 62.9 percent in 2014 to 60.9 percent in 2024.

“So, generally, what we’re seeing is a decline in labor force participation largely due to baby boomers exiting the labor force,” Boily explained. “That’s good news for you because someone’s going to have to do the jobs that they were doing and hopefully that’s going to be you.”

If the labor force participation declines, the projected gross domestic product will drop below historical levels and is expected to be less than 2.2 percent, which Boily described as “not good news.”

With 1.9 percent, which is three percent over the total non-agricultural wage and salary annual growth, health care and social assistance employment is growing the fastest.

While office and administrative support is projected to be the largest occupational group, farming, fishing and forestry, on the other hand, appears as the smallest group, which is partly because of the limited amount of farmers and fishers in the country.

The overall job openings come from the growth in employment and replacement needs, and exist even in declining occupations such as the farming, fishing and forestry industry.

The jobs that require higher education are projected to grow more significantly.

“The higher the education, the more money you make,” Boily said as she was trying to cheer up the crowd disappointed with some of the statistics.

Since most students attending the presentation were part of the College of Business Administration, Boily provided the dissatisfied students with additional sources and tools to perform their personal predictions regarding their future career.

Boily concluded by encouraging students to refer to the occupational outlook handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as the graphic representation of occupation employment statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Labor.

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