ANN ARBOR, MI—Health care added 22,600 jobs in September. Combined with very strong August growth and upward revisions to July, the 6-month average job gain now sits at 26,000, about 50% higher than the 17,500 average over the previous 12 months ending in March 2014. Solid continued growth seems likely, as the August job openings rate of 4.3% in health care and social assistance is the highest since before the recession.
Health spending in August 2014 grew 4.9% over August 2013, while second-quarter growth, reflecting data from the September Quarterly Services Survey, came in at 5.1%. This is well above the 3.6% growth estimate for 2013, but none of the increase is due to health care services, whose spending growth has been essentially flat. More than half the increase is due to accelerated spending on prescription drugs. In August 2014, health spending accounted for 17.4% of the gross domestic product, which has not changed since December 2013.
Altarum Institute previously reported a health care price growth in August 2014 that was 1.7% higher than in August 2013. New price data for September will become available on October 22. We will update our Health Care Price Index and distribute this information on Twitter as soon as it is available.
These data come from the monthly Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM briefs released by Altarum’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending (www.altarum.org/HealthIndicators).
“Two months ago, we were seeing no acceleration in health care employment,” said Charles Roehrig, director of the Center. “However, with the upward revision to July and strong August and September growth, the picture has transformed into a significant jump in the second quarter that has continued through the third quarter. We are looking to see if this growth has been concentrated in states that embraced expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act.”
For more on this topic, please see the article published Wednesday: Roehrig, C. (2014, October 8). National health spending in 2014—Acceleration delayed. New England Journal of Medicine, 371(15).