Healthcare boasts biggest gains in latest jobs report despite ACA uncertainty

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Overall, the U.S. economy added 220,000 jobs in June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, with the healthcare sector responsible for nearly 37,000 of those positions. (Getty/AndreyPopov)

Uncertainty over the future of healthcare didn’t stop hospitals and ambulatory care centers from hiring new employees in June. In fact, the healthcare industry was the biggest contributor to the overall job market in the United States last month, according to the latest jobs report.

Overall, the U.S. economy added 220,000 jobs in June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, with the healthcare sector responsible for nearly 37,000 of those positions. Ambulatory settings added the most jobs (26,000) and hospitals added nearly 12,000.

But the job growth is not quite as strong as last year. Last year, hospitals added 15,000 positions in June. The BLS reported that on average, the healthcare sector added an average of 24,000 jobs per month in the first half of 2017, compared to the monthly average of 32,000 jobs in 2016. 

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And economic analysts say that while healthcare is among the fastest-growing sectors, it doesn’t necessarily offer higher wages. While healthcare executives and physicians command high salaries, many positions, including home healthcare workers, pay lower wages.

“Healthcare can be a double-edged sword because there are some workers who are highly trained who can command strong wages, and those who are not are paid lower wages,” Mark Hamrick, Washington bureau chief and senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com, told Ladders. “In other words, healthcare can be a sector of the haves and have nots when it comes to pay.”

But a new initiative may help entry-level healthcare workers obtain a stronger career path and better pay. Nearly 20 healthcare systems from across the U.S. are taking part in a Health Career Pathways Task Force to help develop these career pathways, according to a recent Health Affairs blog post

The task force is aiming to foster collaboration among employers to identify healthcare jobs and skills that are most in demand, improve training protocols to ensure potential candidate have the skills and experience most needed by employers, and support job seekers in advancing along established career pathways to middle-class career.