Health Job Growth Slows in April, But Spending and Prices Remain Stable

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Altarum headquarters in Ann Arbor. Photo by Dwight Burdette via Wikimedia Commons.

Altarum headquarters in Ann Arbor. Photo by Dwight Burdette via Wikimedia Commons.

ANN ARBOR — Health care job growth slowed in April, with just 19,000 new jobs created compared to the 24-month average of 24,000 jobs. Prior to April, job growth for the first quarter of 2012 was 97,000, leaving the health share of national employment at a record high of 10.8 percent. Since December 2007, the health sector has added 1.2 million jobs, a cumulative growth of 9.2 percent.

These data come from the May “Health Sector Economic Indicators” briefs released today by Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending. The briefs — covering health care spending, utilization, prices and employment — can be viewed at www.altarum.org/healthindicators.

“The extremely high rate of growth in health care jobs, combined with near record low spending and price growth, has been a paradox in 2012. April’s slowing job growth suggests these two factors are coming into balance,” said Dr. Charles Roehrig, director of the Altarum Center for Sustainable Health Spending. “Based on our data, we’d expect health sector job creation to continue to be moderate in the coming months.”

This month’s data also reveal that health spending grew at 4.0 percent year-over-year in March 2012, just above the record full-year low of 3.8 percent set in 2009. Health care prices in March 2012 were 1.9 percent higher than in March 2011, bringing growth barely above its February 2012, 14-year low. The March 2012 12-month moving average price growth of 2.1 percent is the lowest since December 1998.

The health spending share of GDP was 18.0 percent in March 2012, 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 employs more than 400 individuals and is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich., with additional offices in the Washington, D.C., area; Atlanta, Ga.; Portland, Maine; and San Antonio, Texas.

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