No Jobs Bump from Obamacare

Last Friday’s employment report demonstrated once again that Obamacare is not having the effect that the health services industry overall hoped for: Employment in health care is increasing at pretty much the same pace as in the rest of the economy. There is no evidence of an Obamacare jobs bump.

As shown in Table 1 and Table 2, the monthly increase in health jobs for December was 0.23 percent (34,000 jobs), which is slightly greater than the 0.17 percent increase in non-health, nonfarm payroll. However, those figures are just reversed from November. In the twelve months since December 2013, the rate of growth in health jobs has been exactly the same as non-health jobs.

However, this camouflages a significant shift in the workforce: Out of hospitals and into ambulatory settings. Over the last twelve months, hiring in ambulatory settings comprised three-quarters of new health jobs. Hiring was distributed across the three ambulatory settings described in the report: physicians’ offices, outpatient care centers, and home health. Hospitals accounted for only 15 percent of the growth in health jobs; and nursing and residential care only 11 percent.

Hopefully, this shift in the workforce signifies increased use of technologies, such as telemedicine, which promises to reduce patients’ need to be admitted to expensive inpatient settings.

Table 1: Employment Situation Summary (seasonally adjusted, thousands)
November 2014 December 2014 Change Percentage Change
Total Nonfarm

140,095

140,347

252

0.18%

Health

14,881

14,916

34

0.23%

Ambulatory

6,781

6,798

16

0.24%

Offices of Physicians

2,520

2,520

1

0.03%

Outpatient care centers

730

734

4

0.52%

Home health care services

1,313

1,317

4

0.32%

Hospitals

4,833

4,840

7

0.14%

Nursing & residential care facilities

3,267

3,278

11

0.33%

Nursing care facilities

1,650

1,652

1

0.07%

Total Nonfarm less health

125,214

125,432

218

0.17%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Situation Summary, December (January 9, 2015)

 

Table 2: Employment Situation Summary (seasonally adjusted, thousands)

December 2013

December 2014

Change

Percentage Change

Total Nonfarm

137,395

140,347

2,952

2.15%

Health

14,605

14,916

311

2.13%

Ambulatory

6,567

6,798

230

3.51%

Offices of Physicians

2,461

2,520

59

2.40%

Outpatient care centers

701

734

33

4.71%

Home health care services 1,263 1,317 54 4.31%
Hospitals 4,793 4,840 47 0.99%
Nursing & residential care facilities 3,245 3,278 33 1.03%
Nursing care facilities 1,648 1,652 4 0.22%
Total Nonfarm less health 122,791 125,432 2,641 2.15%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Situation Summary, December (January 9, 2015)

* * *

For the pivotal alternative to Obamacare, please see the Independent Institute’s widely acclaimed book: Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, by John C. Goodman.

John R. Graham is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute.
Posts by John R. Graham | Full Biography and Publications
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