Paying it forward: Physicians create, support 12.6M jobs, contribute to health of the economy

Physicians have a major impact on the country's job market and economy, according to a new AMA report. (jansucko/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Physicians don't just improve the health of their patients, they also help keep the economy healthy, according to a report out this morning from the American Medical Association.

Physicians across the country create and support 12.6 million jobs and generate $2.3 trillion in economic activity, according to the new study (PDF) from the country’s largest physician organization.

“The positive impact of physicians extends beyond safeguarding the health and welfare of their patients,” said AMA President David O. Barbe, M.D., in an announcement. “The AMA’s economic impact study illustrates that physicians are strong economic drivers that are woven into their local communities by the commerce and jobs they create. These quality jobs generate taxes to support schools, housing, transportation and other public services in local communities.”

An interactive map provides a state-by-state breakdown of the data. The study measures the impact of the country’s 736,873 physicians based on four economic indicators:

  • Jobs: The average physician supports 17.1 jobs. An additional 11 jobs, above and beyond the clinical and administrative personnel that work inside a physician practice, are supported for each $1 million of revenue generated by a physician practice.
  • Economic activity: Physicians generate $2.3 trillion in economic output, which makes up 13% of the national economy. Each physician generates an average of $3.2 million.
  • Wages and benefits: Physicians contribute $1 trillion in wages and benefits paid to workers across the country. Each physician contributes, on average, $1.4 million to workers’ wages and benefits.
  • State and local tax revenue: Physicians’ contributions to the national economy generates $92.9 billion in state and local tax revenue, translating to $126,129, on average, per physician.

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The report said that every dollar applied to physician services supports an additional $2.84 in other business activity.

Doctors generate more economic output, produce more jobs and pay more in wages and benefits than many other professionals, including those working in higher education, nursing and community care facilities, legal services and home health services, the report said.

Similarly, hospitals are a major economic engine across the country, and every dollar spent by one generates $2.30 in economic activity, according to a report last year by the American Hospital Association.

The AHA estimates that hospitals support 1 in 9 U.S. jobs and through “ripple effects” support more than 10 million additional jobs.