An Altarum’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending report showed that the U.S. health care sector recorded sluggish growth in employment for 2017.
For the first five months of the year, the sector’s employment reached an average of 22,000 jobs per month, as opposed to 32,000 jobs for each month of 2016 and 2015, according to the report.
The report attributed the recent slowdown for health care employment, which occurs in both hospitals and ambulatory care, to a tapered coverage expansion and uncertainty over recent coverage gains, according to Charles Roehrig, Altarum’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending founding director.
This downward trend has likely affected the pace of hiring for those wanting to work as a locum tenens. Companies such as Locum Tenens Daily still give physicians and medical practitioners the chance to practice, but online resources used in the report also showed that health services utilization had suffered a decline in recent months.
However, health care jobs accounted for a record-high growth of overall employment. Medical employment may have only increased 2.1% so far in 2017, yet it contributed to a 10.75% growth in total jobs nationwide.
Pricing and Spending
As job growth proved to be slow, health care prices slightly increased that could be good news for patients. In April, prices just increased 1.6% compared to 1.9% year over year. However, falling prices for medicine, dental services and healthcare products outweighed the small hospital and physician price growth.
The industry also spent less in the same month, down to 4.4% year over year. It represented the weakest growth since the last 16 months, according to the report. Roehrig said that spending in 2017 could break price growth of more than 5% that has occurred in the last three years.
The public and private sector should work together in finding a solution to the declining health care employment, amid the continual need for professional services among patients in the country. For many facilities, hiring locum tenens might be the only way to give some physicians employment.