ANN ARBOR — January and February 2012 saw the largest ever two-month increase in health care jobs, with 49,000 new jobs created in February and 43,000 in January, according to the Ann Arbor-based Altarum Institute.
The soaring job creation has brought the health sector share of total national employment to an all-time high of 10.8 percent.
These figures come from the March “Health Sector Economic Indicators” briefs released Thursday by Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending. The complete set of briefs — covering health care spending, utilization, prices and employment — can be viewed at www.altarum.org/healthindicators.
Altarum’s data also reveal that health spending growth continues a downward trend begun in February 2011, with just 3.4 percent growth in January 2012 compared to January 2011, hovering around the record full-year low of 3.8 percent in 2009. Health care inflation, hitting 2.0 percent in January, remains at the lowest level in 13 years.
“We appear to be in a beneficial period where the health sector is creating jobs the economy clearly needs, yet rates of increase in health spending and prices are still near historic lows,” said Charles Roehrig, director of the Center for Sustainable Health Spending. “There is some reason for concern, however, since continued outsized health employment growth is likely to put pressure on health spending and prices.”
With steady price inflation, and the rate of spending growth falling in the last 12 months, growth in per capita health care utilization slowed to an average of 0.4 percent in the last three months. The health spending share of GDP was 18.0 percent in December 2011, up from 16.4 percent at the start of the recession (December 2007), but down from the all-time high of 18.2 percent in June 2011.
Altarum Institute (www.altarum.org) employs more than 400 individuals and is headquartered in Ann Arbor, with additional offices in the Washington, D.C., area; Sacramento, Calif.; Atlanta, Ga.; Portland, Maine; and San Antonio, Texas.