CSHS Health Sector Economic Indicators Briefs

Altarum’s Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM briefs are designed to address significant shortcomings in the availability of timely economic data on the health sector, including employment, spending, and prices. Published monthly, the reports are a product of Altarum's Center for Sustainable Health Spending.

August 2016 Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM Briefs

National health spending in June 2016 was 5.2% higher than in June 2015, totaling $3.36 trillion (seasonally adjusted annual rate). Health care prices in June 2016 were 1.6% higher than in June 2015, the highest rate since December 2014. The June 12-­month moving average was 1.3%, the highest level since July 2015. While still very low, these rates are clearly trending upward. And health care added 43,200 new jobs in July, above the 12-month average of 39,700 new jobs per month. Strong growth in hospital hiring put the July figure of 17,100 above the 12-month average of 15,300.

 

July 2016 Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM Briefs

National health spending in May 2016 was 5.0% higher than in May 2015. Spending on prescription drugs dropped to 5.2% growth, continuing its decline from the 12.2% spike in 2014. Official government projections released on July 13 anticipate spending growth of 4.8% for all of 2016, the lowest rate since 2013. Health jobs grew 3.2% year over year while non-health jobs grew 1.6%, increasing the health share of total employment to a new all-time high of 10.78%. Health care prices in May 2016 were 1.5% higher than in May 2015, the third consecutive month at this rate. Drug price growth fell to 3.3% from 4.0% in April. (emphasis added)

 

June 2016 Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM Briefs

National health spending in April 2016 was 4.6% higher than in April 2015. This marked the sixth consecutive month of spending growth below 5%, and is well under the estimated average of 5.8% for all of 2015. Health care added 45,700 new jobs in May, even more than the robust 12-month average of 40,600 new jobs per month. Health jobs grew 3.2% year-over-year while nonhealth jobs grew 1.5%, increasing the health share of total employment to a new all-time high of 10.77%. Health care prices in April 2016 were 1.5% higher than in April 2015, unchanged from the March 2016 rate. Drug price growth rose to 4.0% from 3.6% in March, making it easily the fastest growing price component. (emphasis added)

 

May 2016 Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM Briefs

National health spending in March 2016 was 4.7% higher than health spending in March 2015, the fifth consecutive month of spending growth below 5%, and lower than the average 5.8% rate for all of 2015. In contrast to moderate spending growth, the health sector added 44,200 new jobs in April, slightly more than the robust 12-month average of 41,800 new jobs per month. More than half of these new jobs were in hospitals, an all-time high of 22,900, representing not only the highest monthly increase in hospital jobs over the 25 years of our data, but a record high 4% year over year rate of growth. (emphasis added).  Finally, Health care prices in March 2016 were 1.5% higher than in March 2015, down from 1.7% in February, the first drop since September 2015.

 

April 2016 Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM Briefs

National health spending in February 2016 was 4.8% higher than health spending in February 2015. While this rate is somewhat higher than the 4.5% growth observed in both December 2015 and January 2016, February is the fourth consecutive month in which it has been below 5%. Health care prices in February 2016 were 1.7% higher than in February 2015, up from 1.6% in January and the highest rate since September 2014. And consistent with recent patterns, health jobs grew 3.4% year over year while nonhealth jobs grew 1.8%, increasing the health share of total employment to a new, all-time high of 10.73%.

 

March 2016 Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM Briefs

National health spending in January 2016 was 4.9% higher than health spending in January 2015, slightly above the December 2015 growth rate of 4.8% but well below the 6.8% peak in February 2015. Health care prices in January 2016 were 1.6% higher than in January 2015, up from 1.3% in December and the highest rate since December 2014. Drug price growth rose to 3.0% from 2.4% in December, breaking a 4-month string of lower readings. And the health sector added 38,100 new jobs in February, the sixth straight month of annual growth above 3%. Hospitals added 10,600 jobs, comparable to the 24-month average.

 

February 2016 Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM Briefs

Preliminary estimates show health spending grew only 4.9% in December 2015 compared to December 2014, continuing a steady decline from a peak of 6.8% in February 2015. Spending on hospitals and prescription drugs, each of which is growing at less than half the rate observed in February, led the decline. Health care prices in December 2015 were 1.2% higher than in December 2014, up from 1.1% in November, exhibiting an upward trend from its all-time low rate of 0.9% in September 2015. And the health sector added a robust 36,800 new jobs in January, a quarter of all new non-farm jobs. Nearly two-thirds were in hospitals, which added 23,700 jobs, twice as many as the 12,000 jobs added in December.

 

January 2016 Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM Briefs

National health spending in November 2015 was up 5.0% compared to November 2014, continuing the slowdown from a peak of nearly 7% growth in February 2015. Health care prices were 1.1% higher than in November 2014, slightly below the 1.2% rate measured in October. And the health sector added 39,400 jobs in December, for a total annual gain of 475,000 new jobs, 50% more than in 2014. More than one-third of new health jobs in 2015 were in hospitals, although the hospital hiring boom may be moderating as hospitals have added fewer jobs each month in the second half of the year.

 

December 2015 Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM Briefs

Health spending in October 2015 was up 5.5% compared to October 2014, continuing the slowdown from the peak of 6.8% growth in February 2015. Health care prices in October 2015 were 1.2% higher than in October 2014, up from 1.0% in September, a rate that tied the multi-decade low hit in August 2013. The health sector added 23,800 jobs in November, a solid increase but much lower than the unusually large gains seen in each of the past 7 months.

 

November 2015 Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM Briefs

The health sector added a robust 44,900 new jobs in October and now accounts for 10.7% of total employment — an all-time high. Hospitals have added 148,000 jobs from January through October 2015, a six-fold increase over the 23,000 jobs added over the same period in 2014. Health care prices in September 2015 were 1.0% higher than in September 2014, down from 1.2% in August, and returning to the multi-decade low hit in August 2013. And after reaching an 8-year high in February, the health spending growth rate has steadily declined from 6.8% to 5.5% in September, year over year.

 

October 2015 Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM Briefs

National health spending in August 2015 was 5.7% higher than in August 2014. Prescription drug spending grew the fastest of the major categories at 9.2% year over year, though down from its multi-year high of 14.6% in December 2014. Health care prices in August 2015 were 1.2% higher than in August 2014, breaking a string of 1.1% readings. Even with this slight acceleration, prices are growing only two tenths above the decade-plus low of 1.0% growth registered in August 2013. The health sector added a strong 34,400 new jobs in September, with minimal revisions to July and August. Hospitals continued robust hiring, adding 15,500 jobs in August, and have added 124,000 jobs so far in 2015, 54,000 in the third quarter alone.

 

September 2015 Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM Briefs

The health sector added 40,500 new jobs in August and totaled 314,000 jobs through the first 8 months of 2015, nearly twice the number added during the first 8 months of 2014. Health jobs are growing at 3.1% year over year, the highest rate since 2002. National health spending in July 2015 was 5.6% higher than health spending in July 2014, down from the 8-year high growth rate of 6.8% first estimated in December 2014. Health care prices in July 2015 were 1.1% higher than in July 2014, for the 4th consecutive month, and only a 10th above the decade-plus low of 1.0% growth registered in August 2013.

 

August 2015 Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM Briefs

National health spending in June 2015 was 5.7% higher than in June 2014, down from the 8-year high growth rate of 6.7% in the first quarter of 2015. The 5.7% growth rate is still, however, higher than the new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services 2014 estimate of 5.5%. The health sector added about 28,000 new jobs in July, a bit off the pace of the previous 3 months but still above the 24-month average of 26,600. In the first 7 months of 2015, the health sector has averaged more than 37,000 new jobs per month. Health job growth in July reached 3.0% year over year for the first time since 2002. Health care prices in June 2015 were 1.1% higher than in June 2014, the third consecutive month at that rate and only a tenth above the decade-plus low of 1.0% growth registered in August 2013.

 

July 2015 Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM Briefs

The health sector continued its strong job growth in June with the addition of 40,100 new jobs. Health job growth doubled between 2013 and 2014 (13,000 versus 26,000 jobs per month) and is nearly three times as high in the first half of 2015 (38,000 per month) than it was in 2013. National health spending in May 2015 was 5.9% higher than in May 2014, moderating from a more-than-8-year peak growth rate of 6.8% in March 2015. Health care prices in May 2015 were 1.1% higher than in May 2014, only a tenth above the decade-plus low of 1.0% growth registered in August 2013.

 

National health spending in April 2015 was 6.2% higher than in April 2014. At $3.2 trillion, health spending now represents 18.2% of gross domestic product, a new all-time high. The health sector added 46,800 new jobs in May, and has added more than 400,000 jobs in the past 12 months, growth not seen since 1991. Health care prices in April 2015 were 1.2% higher than in April 2014, only two-tenths higher than the decade-plus low of 1.0% growth registered in August 2013. Hospital prices rose by a low 0.5%.

 

May 2015 Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM Briefs

The health services sector added 45,000 jobs in April 2015, continuing the surge that began roughly 1 year ago. On a year-over-year basis, health job growth now comfortably exceeds nonhealth growth at 2.7 percent versus 2.1 percent. Health care prices in March 2015 were 1.3 percent higher than in March 2014, but hospital prices rose a scant 0.4 percent, while physician and clinical services prices actually fell 0.6 percent. Prescription drug prices rose 5.7 percent, the second highest reading since February 2002. And preliminary estimates show that national health spending in March 2015 was 6.8 percent higher than in March 2014. At $3.2 trillion, health spending now represents 18.1 percent of gross domestic product, the first time ever this share has breached the 18 percent level

 

April 2015 Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM Briefs

National health spending grew by 5.2% in 2014, and preliminary estimates show 6.6% growth in February 2015 compared to February 2014. Health care prices in February 2015 were 1.4% higher than in February 2014, barely above the January year-over-year change of 1.2%. The February 2015 12-month moving average held at 1.5%. And the health sector added 22,000 jobs in March 2015, close to the 24-month average but below the 12-month average gain of about 30,000. Hospitals added 8,000 jobs in March and are averaging 10,000 new jobs per month in the first quarter of 2015.

 

March 2015 Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM Briefs

Preliminary estimates indicate that national health spending grew by 5.7% in January 2015 compared with January 2014, suggesting that the strong growth in the latter half of 2014 is carrying forward into the new year. Spending on prescription drugs continued its double-digit growth at 11.6%. Health care prices in January 2015 were 1.2% higher than in January 2014, dramatically lower than the December year-over-year change of 1.8%. And the health sector added 23,800 new jobs in February 2015, below the average growth seen in the fourth quarter of 2014 (39,000) and the January 2015 level (40,000).

 

February 2015 Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM Briefs

Health sector employment began 2015 much as it left off in 2014, adding 38,300 new jobs in January 2015, consistent with the 39,000 new jobs per month seen in the fourth quarter of 2014. Over the past 3 months, the health sector has added 127,000 jobs, the largest quarterly increase since January 1990 (which is as far back as our data go). Health care prices in December 2014 were 1.8% higher than in December 2013, two-tenths of a percentage point above the November rate. Prescription drug prices rose 6.4%, a growth rate not seen since 1992, well up from 4.6% in November. Preliminary estimates indicate that national health spending grew by 5.0% in 2014 and by 5.6% in December 2014 compared with December 2013, up significantly from the official 2013 national spending growth rate of 3.6%—the all-time low.

 

January 2015 Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM Briefs

Health sector employment ended 2014 with a bang as it added 34,100 new jobs in December 2014 and saw upward revisions of 17,800 in October and November. Health care prices in November 2014 were 1.6 percent higher than in November 2013, a 10th higher than the October year-over-year rate. And national health spending in November 2014 grew 5.1 percent over November 2013. Incorporating the Quarterly Services Survey, released on December 10, we now estimate that national health spending in the third quarter was 5.5 percent greater than in the third quarter of 2013—the highest growth rate since the first quarter of 2008, when it was 5.8 percent.

RELATED CONTENT

Subject Matter Experts

Areas of Expertise