In Rochester, Minn., home of the Mayo Clinic, 38 percent all jobs are in health care. In the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metro, near the Texas-Mexico border, the share is smaller but still considerable – 22 percent of the workforce is employed in health care industries.
Rochester, McAllen and dozens of other metropolitan areas, as well as a few states, rely on health care as one of the primary sources for new jobs and stable careers. Meanwhile, looking at the U.S. as a whole, the stable health care sector has become an increasingly larger force in the labor market.
Over the last decade-plus, jobs in manufacturing have waxed and (mostly) waned. The construction industry has been volatile. Government jobs have plummeted the last few years.
Then there’s health care.
As EMSI’s recent analysis makes clear, no segment of the economy has withstood downturns and uncertainty better than hospitals, offices of physicians, home health care providers and the other industries that make up the health care sector.
From 2001 to 2002, when a recession slowed hiring in most sectors, health care (including government-run hospitals) added 530,000 jobs, a 4 percent increase. And since 2007, employment in health care has ballooned 10.7 percent (an addition of 1.85 million jobs) while all other industries in the U.S. have declined 2.8 percent (a loss of 3.85 million jobs).
Indeed, it’s been an uninterrupted rise for health care: Even during the latest recession, health care jobs grew 2 to 4 percent annually.
Because of this unrivaled growth, health care is now the nation’s largest private-sector industry sector, accounting for 13 percent of the total U.S. workforce (it surpassed manufacturing in 2003 and retail trade in 2007). And in many regions, the share of total jobs in health care is much larger than the national average.
States Most Reliant on Health Care Jobs
The three states with the highest share of health care jobs – Rhode Island (16.5 percent), West Virginia (16.0) and Maine (15.6) – each have larger-than-average concentrations of residents 60 years or older, which increases the need for health care services.
While Northeast states tend to have older populations, and thus higher shares of health care workers, this trend can be found across the United States. After Rhode Island, West Virginia and Maine, health care jobs are most prominent in Pennsylvania (15.7 percent), New York (15.6) and Massachusetts (15.3).
Washington, D.C., meanwhile, has the lowest share of health care jobs in the U.S. (8.4 percent) but by far the most health care jobs per capita (1,030 per 10,000 residents). While Nevada has the second-lowest share of health care jobs (8.8 percent), it has the fastest-growing health care workforce among all states at 4 percent since 2012.
Metros Most Reliant on Health Care Jobs
Rochester, Minn., doesn’t just have the largest share of health care jobs (38.4 percent) of any metro and the most health care jobs per capita (2,274 per 10,000 residents) in the nation. Health care and social assistance also accounts for 37 percent of its gross regional product, according to EMSI – a huge share that equaled more than $3.7 billion in 2012.
Along with Rochester, large university towns (e.g., Ann Arbor and Durham-Chapel) and isolated metros with growing hospital systems (e.g., Sioux Falls) rank in the top 10 in health care jobs per capita.
What about the 100 largest metros in the country?
Among the most populous cities, Texas’ McAllen-Edinburg-Mission has the highest share of health care jobs (21.9 percent). It has a large concentration of the low-paying home health care services industry (10 times the national average) and jobs in the “services for the elderly and person with disabilities” industry (four times the national average).
Second on the list is Durham-Chapel Hill, at 18.1 percent, which has large presence of university-based health care systems. And after the Research Triangle metro, Northeast cities come next: New Haven-Milford (17.8 percent), Worcester (17.1), Youngstown-Warren-Boardman (17.1) and Providence-New Bedford-Fall River (16.7 percent)
Pennsylvania metros also figure prominently in the top 15. Health care accounts for 16 percent or more of all jobs in Scranton–Wilkes-Barre (16.3), Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton (16.4 percent), Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington (16.2), and Pittsburgh (16.0 percent).
Durham-Chapel Hill has the most health care jobs per capita among the 100 largest metros (1,076 per 10,000 residents), followed by Boston-Cambridge-Quincy (867) and Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor (854).
Fastest-Growing Metros for Health Care Jobs
Since the start of 2012, no industry has added more new jobs than health care and social assistance – an estimated 365,000. All but five of the 100 largest metros have seen job gains during this time.
Richmond is the fastest-growing metro for health care since the start of last year (5.6 percent), just ahead of Houston (5.2 percent). Boise, Grand Rapids and Las Vegas round out the top five.
|Metropolitan Statistical Area Name||2012 Jobs||2013 Jobs||% Change|
|Source: QCEW Employees, Non-QCEW Employees & Self-Employed - EMSI 2013.3 Class of Worker|
|Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX||309,332||325,411||5.2%|
|Boise City-Nampa, ID||39,116||40,953||4.7%|
|Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI||56,336||58,801||4.4%|
|Las Vegas-Paradise, NV||75,041||78,288||4.3%|
|Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC||89,627||93,312||4.1%|
|Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA||242,277||252,179||4.1%|
|Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX||86,429||89,939||4.1%|
|El Paso, TX||39,570||41,170||4.0%|
Note: This is our latest article for our Forbes contributor site.