November 11, 2016

ANN ARBOR, MI—Health care added 30,500 jobs in October, a bit less than the 12-month average of 34,600 jobs. By several metrics, health job growth peaked in mid-2015 and has been slowing gradually through 2016. Health jobs grew 2.7% year over year, down slightly from rates above 3% seen in mid-2015 through mid-2016, but higher than non-health jobs at 1.5%, putting the health share of total employment at its all-time high of 10.8%.

At a $3.41 trillion rate, national health spending in September 2016 was 5.4% higher than in September 2015, exhibiting a decline since May 2016 when the growth rate was 5.9%. The health spending share of GDP was 18.2% in September 2016, falling just below the all-time high of 18.3% seen in June 2016. Spending in September 2016, year over year, increased in all major categories. Hospital care grew the fastest, at 6.6%. Prescription drugs grew at a 4.5% rate, the slowest among the major categories, despite accelerating prices.

In September 2016, our Health Care Price Index (HCPI) rose 2.1% above the September 2015 level. This is the fastest rate since August 2012, mainly due to prescription drugs whose price growth of 7.0% is the highest since 1992. Despite the upward trending HCPI, hospital prices at 1.2% and physician prices at 0.2% show continued muted growth. The HCPI has been rising more quickly than economy-wide prices, a normal outcome in a historical context.

These data come from the monthly Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM briefs released by Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending (

“It is remarkable to see such slow growth in prescription drug spending in the face of such rapid prescription drug price inflation,” said Charles Roehrig, founding director of the Center. “As a result, prescription drugs have recently exerted downward pressure on overall health spending growth while simultaneously driving overall health price inflation up.”  

Contact Information
Sarah Litton
Manager, Communications and Public Affairs


Altarum Institute's ( mission is to create a better, more sustainable future for all Americans by applying research-based and field-tested solutions that transform our systems of health and health care. Altarum employs over 400 individuals and is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with additional offices in Portland, Maine; Silver Spring, MD; Rockville, MD; and Washington, D.C.