The June 2017 jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics came out showing a big improvement in the number of jobs added in America: a whopping 222,0000 last month.
What stands out is that 37,000 jobs added in health care just last month has the potential to be promising, especially when you consider a few other trends.
The health care industry boomed in June
The June 2017 jobs report is one of the many data points showing that healthcare is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S.
“Ambulatory health care services” added 26,000 jobs and hospitals added 12,000 jobs last month. In the first half of this year, the number of health care jobs has gone up 24,000 per month on average. In 2016, the this number was 32,000 jobs on average.
Even though healthcare is growing faster, it doesn’t necessarily pay better. Mark Hamrick, Washington bureau chief and senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com, told Ladders that the healthcare industry has a wide divergence in salaries.
“Health care can be a double-edged sword because there are some workers who are highly trained who can command strong wages, and those who are not are paid lower wages. In other words, health care can be a sector of the haves and the have nots when it comes to pay,” Hamrick said.
He mentioned “doctors, nurses, and technicians” as examples of positions with higher wages, and “home health care aides and certain kinds of therapists” as examples of positions with lower wages.
“But with the aging population, we know the outlook for health care sector employment is about as strong as it is anywhere,” Hamrick said.
Get medicine, or buy food?
Hamrick hits upon an important point: The growth of healthcare jobs has a darker source: as Baby Boomers age, more people are likely to get sick in the U.S. At the same time, for everyone, shouldering the costs of healthcare can be a hefty burden.
Research from the the Kaiser Family Foundation, released in March 2017, showed the lengths some have to go to in order to afford care.
“Three in ten (29 percent) Americans report problems paying medical bills, and these problems come with real consequences for some. For example, among those reporting problems paying medical bills, seven in ten (73 percent) report cutting back spending on food, clothing, or basic household items,” the research says, adding, “Challenges affording care also result in some Americans saying they have delayed or skipped care due to costs in the past year, including 27 percent who say they have put off or postponed getting health care they needed, 23 percent who say they have skipped a recommended medical test or treatment, and 21 percent who say they have not filled a prescription for a medicine.”
A fuller picture of June 2017 jobs in the US
Just to be clear, there is a margin of error in the number of jobs added: the data is based on a household survey and an establishment survey, and the data gets revised twice more, which can cause big changes. That’s what happened in May, when a promising year suddenly pitched downward with one revision.
Here are a just few of the other findings from the jobs report.
While there were 7 million people out of work, unemployment was at 4.4%— both numbers that were “little changed.” The labor force participation rate was 62.8%, which also wasn’t a big change for June.
A few industries showed growth. The number of social assistance jobs went up by 23,000, mining by 8,000 and financial activities by 17,000. Other gains included a 35,000-job jump in professional and business services last month.
But in industries that create tangible things, like retail, manufacturing and construction, among many others, nothing drastic happened in terms of job growth in June. That may be somewhat good news: Retail jobs were having a tough time in March.
Hamrick told Ladders about the nature of the evolving retail industry.
“Number one is to ensure a satisfying customer experience. It’s worth remembering that there are hundreds of thousands of jobs openings in the retail sector in a given month. The retail sector is experiencing a great deal of disruption at the moment, in part because of changing consumer buying patterns. But online sales are still a relatively small portion of overall retail sales.”
He added, “I don’t know that the retail sector is where you want your college-educated child to work unless they’re an entrepreneur or a manager, or attached to a luxury brand. Being in the front of the house in a retail setting— it may be dependent on a high level of sales. And I think that we’re gonna continue to see an accelerating pace of change in retailing as we are in the broader economy.”
Hamrick did not identify “a particular sector” that job seekers should be flocking to right now because it can depend on people’s skill sets, among other factors.