Healthcare jobs among fastest-growing occupations this decade

Healthcare jobs will account for one in six new jobs in the next decade, according to the most recent 10-year projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS expects that registered nurses, nursing assistants, personal care aides and home health aides will have the largest employment increases, adding 1.6 million jobs now through 2022. RNs will grow 19.4 percent (526,800 jobs) but the BLS projects home health aide jobs will increase 48.5 percent (424,000 jobs).

Occupational therapy assistants and aides, physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and aides, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nursing instructors are among the fastest-growing occupations, according to the BLS data.

The projections echo results from a November Career Builder report, which found healthcare jobs among the fastest-growing in all industries between now and 2017, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

But an article in The Atlantic questions the projections. "Healthcare spending is growing slower than the economy for the first time since 1997, and 'nobody knows why,'" the article states. "And the slowdown in growth is affecting workers, too. Healthcare jobs apparently fell in December for the first time in at least 27 years. Fresh out of the oven, BLS' healthcare employment projections might already be deflating."

The Atlantic also points to a September 2013 study that calculated the odds of "computerization" for the jobs the BLS tracks. That report predicts a 74 percent likelihood that robots and software will take over the role of personal care aides and a 39 percent likelihood that home health aides will find themselves in a similar situation.

The article acknowledges that it's difficult to predict the unknowable future. However, the Atlantic notes that in its last 10-year projections, the BLS "failed to predict the mining boom, the publishing apocalypse and the Great Recession."

To learn more:
- here's the BLS announcement
- check out the BLS data
- see the BLS projections for fastest-growing occupations
- read the Atlantic article
- here's the study (.pdf)