Business is booming in these health care fields

Health care jobs were on the rise last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

In its latest monthly labor review, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics repeatedly linked over-the-year job gains to an important industry — health care. Pay is up in some parts, and the market is growing. But in certain health care fields, the demand for more workers is even higher.

The U.S. job market gained around 3 million new workers in 2023, a 2% increase that represented a significant deceleration from the greater growth in 2022 (377,000 new jobs each month) and massive job boom of 2021 (more than 604,000 new jobs monthly). Health care was one of only two job sectors to experience accelerated growth last year, alongside private education. Combined, the private education and health care industries garnered more than a third of 2023′s new 3 million jobs. For these sectors, business is booming.

The health care industry gained 688,000 jobs last year — more than a 20% markup from 2022′s 572,000 gains. Not every job in the field experienced growth in equal measure, but many sectors expanded. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics laid most of the job gains at the feet of seven subsectors.

Ambulatory services saw the most growth by a significant factor, with 345,000 new workers. That’s 285% greater than the 121,000 positions created by physician offices, which helped grow the ambulatory job market in the first place.

The home health care sector grew by 109,000 jobs, while non-physician office jobs rose by 60,000. Outpatient care centers expanded enough to create an additional 28,000 jobs.

Hospitals created more jobs in 2023 than in 2022, totaling 194,000 positions. While nursing and residential care facilities added more than 149,000 jobs, the bureau pointed out that both industries remain below prepandemic levels.

The not-for-profit National Council of State Boards of Nursing revealed that around 100,000 U.S. nurses left the profession during the pandemic and nearly a fifth will likely leave by 2027.

Labeled a “global health emergency” by the International Council of Nurses last year, the industry continues to face a worldwide shortage. The world will need to replace around 13 million nurses over the coming years, and Georgia needs nurses more than most U.S. states.

According to a report by health care staffing company Medical Solutions, the Peach State has the third lowest nurse-to-state population in the country. By 2030, Georgia will need a projected 13,260 more nurses.

All of that demand has not driven up pay, however. The bureau’s occupational handbook reported a median annual wage of $86,070 for registered nurses last year. In 2022, it was $89,010.

Nurses in the Peach State made an average $90,000 last year — a hearty 146% of Georgia’s average wage ($61,250).

Despite a lack of pay growth, nursing is anticipated to grow at twice the rate of the average American job over the next eight years.

“About 193,100 openings for registered nurses are projected each year, on average, over the decade,” the bureau reported. “Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.”

Most sectors of the health care industry can expect to continue to grow at a relatively speedy pace for the coming years.

“Demand for health care services will increase because of the large number of older people, who typically have more medical problems than younger people,” the bureau reported. “Registered nurses also will be needed to educate and care for patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity. Job growth is expected across most types of health care settings, including hospitals and outpatient care centers that provide same-day services, such as chemotherapy, rehabilitation, and surgery. In addition, because many older people prefer to be treated at home or in residential care facilities, registered nurses will be in demand in those settings.”