Health Care

Health care jobs account for 9.3% of total employment and growing

Analysis: BLS data shows one in five health care workers are registered nurses

The health care industry is big business in the United States, and it has some of the fastest-growing occupations, according to new analysis from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Health care occupations vary widely in terms of skills and formal education required. They include health care practitioners such as physicians, registered nurses, laboratory technicians, and pharmacists; and people who provide health care support, such as nursing assistants, personal care aides, and home health aides,” says the BLS.

In 2022, there were more than 14.7 million people in health care occupations, about 9.3% on the total workforce. Registered nurses (RNs) is the largest occupation – numbering 3.4 million, or one in 5 health care worker – followed by personal care aids and nursing assistants – 1.4 million and 1.2 million respectively.

The new analysis also takes a deeper look at some of the gender and racial demographics of the industry.

  • 8 in 10 workers in all health care occupations were women, much higher than for overall employment, where women made up nearly one-half of all employed workers.
  • 60% of home health aides, 49% of personal care aides, and 47% of nursing assistants had a high school diploma or less;  this compares with 31% for all workers age 25 and older.
  • In contrast, women were slightly underrepresented among physicians (44%).
  • Nearly two-thirds of all health care workers were in the prime working ages of 25 to 54.
  • In 2022, 18% of all employed people in the nation were foreign born. Relative to their share of employment overall, the foreign born were overrepresented among home health aides (40%), personal care aides (28%), and physicians (27%). 
Employment in Health Care Projected to Grow

The BLS projects that employment in the health care industry will grow 13% from 2021 to 2031. This is expected to lead to more than two million jobs over the decade.

“In addition to new jobs from growth, opportunities arise from the need to replace workers who leave their occupations permanently. About 1.9 million openings each year, on average, are projected to come from growth and replacement needs,” according to the analysis.

And how much will those jobs pay?

“The median annual wage for health care practitioners and technical occupations (such as registered nurses, physicians and surgeons, and dental hygienists) was $75,040 in May 2021, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $45,760; health care support occupations (such as home health and personal care aides, occupational therapy assistants, and medical transcriptionists) had a median annual wage of $29,880 in May 2021, which was lower than the median annual wage for all occupations.”

Read all the newly released statistics on the health care industry here.