Healthcare spending, prices barely budging

Spending on healthcare services continued in its historic slow growth mode during July, although job creation in the sector performed better than in recent months, according to data from the Altarum Institute.

Altogether, healthcare spending grew 3.9 percent during the month when compared to July 2012. Healthcare as a share of gross domestic product was at 17.5 percent, essentially unchanged since 2009.

Healthcare prices barely rose, up 1.1 percent compared to July 2012, the second-lowest reading since 1990. The lowest reading of 1 percent was reported last May.

However, healthcare job growth grew at a healthy clip during August, up by a total of 32,700. That compares to the 24-month moving average of 22,700. The sector's unemployment rate was 7.3 percent for the month, compared to 8.1 percent in July 2013. However, only 900 jobs were added to hospital rolls last month, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Overall, the healthcare sector has added 1.5 million jobs since December 2007, while the non-health sectors have lost 3.4 million jobs.

"The main news this month is the rebound in health sector jobs," said Charles Roehrig, director of the center. "While this one-month surge in jobs mutes the overall downward trend for 2013, we still expect health job growth for the full year to be significantly less than it was in 2012."

To learn more:
- read the Altarum Health announcement 
- here's the spending study (.pdf)
- check out the  labor study (.pdf)

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