Skilled nursing jobs to grow by 13% through 2026, though other healthcare segments will fare better

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Skilled nursing facilities' share of the healthcare workforce will shrink by 2026 even as its employee numbers grow, according to new projections built on Bureau of Labor data.

Overall, job growth in the healthcare sector is predicted to outpace the rest of the U.S. economy by three times over the next decade.

Specific growth will reflect “efforts to shift care to the community and out of hospitals,” reported Edward S. Salsberg, faculty member at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services and School of Nursing, and Robert Martiniano, MD, project lead at the Center for Health Workforce Studies, in Health Affairs on Wednesday. Hospital employment is projected to grow only 7% over the next decade.

Job growth in nursing homes, however, is pegged at 13%, down from 14.3% over the previous decade. By 2026, skilled nursing facilities will have 15% of the nation's healthcare jobs — down from 16% in 2006.

Home healthcare and practices are expected to grow most rapidly, by 54% and 21%, respectively, by 2026.

“In many ways, health-sector jobs helped the U.S. economy recover from the financial crisis of 2007–08,” the duo reported. “Over the decade (between 2006 and 2016), jobs in healthcare settings grew more the 20 percent, while jobs in the remainder of the economy only grew 3 percent.”

Healthcare job growth will diminish a bit through the current decade being studied, but it will still far outstrip the rest of the economy at 18% vs. 6%. 

The Center for Health Workforce Studies, based at the School of Public Health of the University at Albany, reported its 2016–26 projections in advance of the Health Affairs blog.

The full outlook is available here.