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March 1999, Vol. 122, No. 3
In recent years, the Nations health care system has undergone a major transition in the way health care is financed, in the settings where care is provided, and in the process by which care is delivered. Privately managed health care institutions emerged as the regulator of services and costs. As growth in health care costs slowed, health care workers experienced smaller gains in employment and earnings in the late 1990s, compared with those in the 1980s. Health services had been a growing portion of the private economy until the latter half of the 1990s, when employment growth fell below the rate of other industries. This article examines changes in the industrys employment and earnings from 1987 to 1997 and in 1998.
Not the job machine it used to be
The primary health services industries are offices of medical doctors, offices of other health practitioners, nursing and personal care, hospitals, and home health care. While health services remains among the small group of industries that add tens of thousands of workers nearly every month, growth in the industry has slowed in recent years.1 Although cost-reduction strategies had already taken hold in 1992, the impact on employment was negligible. Growth in the health services industry was still viewed as robust in that year.
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1 The employment data in this article are from the Current Employment Statistics survey and appear in various issues of Employment and Earnings, a monthly publication of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data on all employees, female workers, average hourly earnings, and average weekly hours are products of this monthly survey. Data also are available on the Internet at /ces/. For a historical view of trends in health care financing and employment, see David Hiles, "Health services: the real job machine," Monthly Labor Review, November 1992, pp. 316.
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