Even if ACA Razed, America Still Needs 5.6 Mil Workers by 2020
June 21, 2012 – Regardless of whether the Affordable Care Act is upheld, America will need 5.6 million new health care professionals by 2020 and most of them will need postsecondary education, according to a Georgetown study released today.
The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce study indicates that 4.6 million (or 82 percent) of these workers will need education beyond high school.
The study also shows that the demand for postsecondary education in health care will grow faster than in any other field except STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and Education occupations.
“In health care, there are really two labor markets – professional and support,” says Anthony P. Carnevale, the center’s director and the report’s lead author. “Professional jobs demand postsecondary training and advanced degrees, while support jobs demand high school and some college.”
There is “minimal mobility” between the two, Carnevale says, “and the pay gap is enormous – the average professional worker makes 2.5 times as much as the average support worker.”
A host of other positions needed to support the future health care system, the study says, includes hospital accountants, pharmaceutical sales representatives and doctor’s office secretaries and other jobs.
Including all behind-the-scenes players, the healthcare industry will grow from 15.6 million jobs in 2010 to 19.8 million jobs in 2020, the study shows.
The study’s other major findings include:
- Healthcare is 18 percent of the U.S. economy, twice as high as in other developed countries.
- Current healthcare spending is unsustainable. By 2020, we will be spending 1 out of every 5 dollars we earn on healthcare.
- Only 20 percent of healthcare professional and technical occupations earn less than $38,000 per year, and almost 50 percent earn more than $60,000.
- More than 70 percent of healthcare support workers make less than $30,000 per year, but this is still better than most of the available alternatives for workers of their skill and education level.
- Health care successfully competes for science and engineering talent. Because the health care, science, and technology fields tend to require similar skills, healthcare programs at the associate and bachelor’s level are often an appealing alternative for science and engineering students.
- People acquiring more education in the field of nursing is growing especially fast. In 1980, 37 percent of entry-level registered nurses had at least an associate’s degree; by 2008, that figure had increased to 80 percent.
- Rising bachelor degree requirements in nursing is crowding out disadvantaged minorities. Fifty-one percent of white nurses under the age of 40 have bachelor’s degrees while only 46 percent of Hispanics and 44 percent of African American nurses are college graduates.
- Health care has the largest number and proportion of foreign-born and foreign-trained workers in the U.S. Among health care workers, 22 percent are foreign-born, compared to 13 percent of all workers nationwide. Most foreign-born nurses come from the Philippines, India and China.
For more information on the study, visit the CEW website.