Throughout the past 60 years, the most reliable source of job growth in the United States has been health care. When other industries, like manufacturing, energy, and retail falter, the health care industry acts as our ballast to the ship of our economy. The Republican health bill making its way through the Senate threatens the stability of our economy and will deprive us of a critical source of economic growth.
In 2015, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that health care would have the fastest employment growth of any industry between 2014 and 2024. The legislation approved by the House will significantly slow growth in the health care sector and could undermine overall economic growth
Health care jobs are the answer to fears of massive job displacement from lost manufacturing and other service jobs. They are a refuge for those displaced by automation and artificial intelligence. Most health care jobs are hands on, providing personal care to those in need. Nursing, rehabilitation, and home care, for example, require intense, direct person to person contact. The deep personal connections formed when caring for another individual provides an important sense of self worth that cannot always be earned in other industries.
Robotics and artificial intelligence may facilitate health care providers in their work but, unlike in other fields, emerging technologies will never fully replace health care jobs. Health care jobs are not restricted to home aides. Health care careers include sophisticated financial and information technology management, in addition to traditional health care professions. For the digital and mechanically minded, health care apps and devices offer a wealth of opportunities. These jobs will exist and grow even through times of recession.
Health care is already a three trillion dollar business in the United States and those of us in the industry know demand will only rise. Our population is rapidly aging. The number of Americans age 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million in 2015 to nearly 100 million by 2060. As a percentage of the total population, people over the age of 65 will make up one quarter of our population by 2016, up from around 15 percent today. The unmet need for senior care alone will require several million more trained workers in the United States than currently exist.
Health care need is endless. Health care jobs will never be exported. The need for one human being to care for another will never fade. Our Congressional leaders should not be allowed to turn their backs on one of the most significant forces of growth in the American economy at exactly the time when we should be turning toward it.