Healthcare's employment boom may soon flatline

Despite healthcare workers' continued confidence in the healthcare industry and job opportunities, a new analysis indicates that healthcare's long employment boom may be coming to an end.

Healthcare employment has been on a steady rise for the last 20 years, but the latest jobs data indicates that the continued climb is showing signs that it may be flattening out, according to U.S. News & World Report. The healthcare sector led July workforce reductions with 6,843 planned job cuts--the highest number of cuts in the industry since November 2009 when it slashed 9,558 jobs, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

But what is more troubling, U.S. News reports, is that in 213 healthcare only averaged 15, 700 new jobs a month--well below the 26,700 average of 2012 and 19,800 in 2011. If this year's average continues, the article says it will be the lowest average monthly growth in employment since 1999, when average monthly growth was 12,000.

"In the health industry, probably the most immediate reason for a slowing in the pace of growth is the cost squeeze that the industry is facing," Patrick O'Keefe, director of economic research at accounting firm CohnReznick told U.S. News. "Household incomes are and have been flat for a long time, which impinges on spending, including health spending."

Furthermore, the high rate of unemployment means Americans have less healthcare coverage through employers, which in turn means people are avoiding doctor and hospital visits.

The biggest threat to the industry, however, is the future of the Affordable Care Act, Douglas Handler, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight, told U.S. News.

"I think there's a lot of anxiety out there the act might be repealed," Handler said, which he indicated may be another reason job growth has slowed. "It's certainly creating a lot of uncertainty, which impedes companies' planning and therefore the health care sector's planning as well."

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