ombining medical technology and the human touch, the health services industry administers care around the clock, responding to the needs of millions of people—from newborns to the critically ill.
More than 460,000 establishments make up the health services industry; all vary greatly in terms of size, staffing, and organization. Two-thirds of all private health services establish-ments are offices of physicians or dentists. Although hospitals comprise less than 2% of all private health services establishments, they employ nearly 40 percent of all workers. When government hospitals are included, the pro-portion rises to almost half the workers in the industry.
The health services industry provided over 10.8 million wage and salary jobs in 1998. Almost one-half of all health services jobs were in hospitals; another one-third were in either nursing and personal care facilities or offices of physicians. About 92 percent worked in the private sector; the remainder worked in State and local government hospitals.
Workers in this industry tend to be older than workers in other industries, especially in occupations requiring higher levels of education and training, because they are more likely to stay in such occupations for a number of years.
Employment in the health services industry is projected to increase 26 percent through 2008, compared to an average of 15 percent for all industries. Employment growth is expected to add about 2.8 million new jobs—14 percent of all wage and salary jobs added to the economy over the 1998-2008 period. Projected rates of employment growth for the various segments of this industry range from 8 percent in hospitals, the largest and slowest growing industry segment, to 80 percent in the much smaller home health care services.
Employment in health services will continue to grow for a number of reasons. The elderly population, a group with much greater than average health care needs, will grow faster than the total population between 1998 and 2008, increasing the demand for health services, especially for home health care and nursing and personal care.
As the baby boom generation ages, the incidence of stroke and heart disease will increase. Advances in medical technology will continue to improve the survival rate of severely ill and injured patients, who will then need extensive therapy. New technologies often lower the cost of treatment and diagnosis, but also enable identification and treatment of conditions not previously treatable.