Demographic Trends in Healthcare Have Led to a More Diverse Workforce

October 18, 2017

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts based on the CEPR report, Organizational Restructuring in U.S. Healthcare Systems: Implications for Jobs, Wages, and Inequality, that examines the experiences of healthcare workers over a decade of change from 2005 to 2015.

Employment trends in hospitals and outpatient settings are consistent with the strategies of organizational restructuring that hospitals have undertaken. Hospitals continue to hire the largest share of workers, with employment rising from 5.25 million jobs in 2005 to 5.75 million in 2015 — a growth rate of almost 10 percent. Outpatient centers account for a much smaller number of jobs, just 737,000 in 2015, but the rate of growth of employment was almost six times that of hospital job growth.

The pattern of rapid job growth in outpatient centers held for all race/ethnicity groups. Employment of white workers in these centers increased 47 percent while black workers’ jobs grew by 65 percent, those of Hispanic workers by 103 percent, and of Asian/other workers by 82 percent. Employment of white women increased by just 17 percent.

While overall job growth in hospitals was slow, job growth for Hispanic workers and for Asian/other workers was strong, with growth rates of 40 percent and 35 percent, respectively. In contrast, black workers saw an increase in hospital employment of just 8 percent while jobs for white workers increased by less than 4 percent. While white and black women experienced very little job growth in hospitals, employment of Hispanic women increased 39 percent and Asian/other women saw job growth of almost 31 percent. Black, Hispanic and Asian men experienced large increases in employment in hospitals, with job increases over the decade of 22 percent for black men and 44 percent for Hispanic and Asian/other men.

These variations in employment growth among different race and ethnic groups affect their shares of employment in healthcare overall and in hospitals and outpatient centers. While white women continue to hold the lion’s share of healthcare jobs, these differences in rates of employment growth have led to a more diverse workforce in both hospitals and outpatient care centers.

Most notable is the decline in the share of healthcare jobs held by white women from 53.1 percent to 49.4 percent in hospitals, and from 54.1 percent to 49.4 percent in outpatient facilities; black women experienced a slight decline in their relative share of jobs in hospitals and a slight increase in outpatient facilities. Hispanic women increased their share of jobs in healthcare with considerably higher job growth in outpatient centers than in hospitals; their employment share increased from 8.7 to 11.5 percent in outpatient facilities and from 5.8 percent to 7.4 percent in hospitals. Asian/other women increased their share of jobs from 5.7 to 6.8 percent in hospitals and from 4.6 to 5.8 percent in outpatient centers. Men increased their share of employment in hospitals from 23.1 to 24.8 percent; their share remained flat over the decade in outpatient facilities.


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