November 2023 Health Sector Economic Indicators Briefs

November 17, 2023

Altarum's monthly Health Sector Economic Indicators (HSEI) briefs analyze the most recent data available on health sector spending, prices, employment, and utilization. Support for this work is provided by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Below are highlights from the November 2023 briefs.

Personal health care spending has outpaced GDP growth for past 8 months

  • In September 2023, national health spending grew by 5.7%, year over year, and represents 17.2% of GDP.
  • Nominal GDP in September 2023 was 6.6% higher than in September 2022, and grew 0.9 percentage points faster than health spending.
  • Neglecting government subsidies, spending on personal health care in September increased by 8.0%, year over year, and by 7.7% when subsidies are included, exceeding the GDP growth rate for the eighth consecutive month.
  • Neglecting government subsidies, year-over-year spending on prescription drugs (11.8%) grew fastest in September, while spending on home health care increased the least (5.5%) among major categories.
  • Personal health care spending growth (neglecting government subsidies) continues to be dominated by growth in utilization rather than price increases.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will release the official estimates of national health spending for 2022 on December 13. We will incorporate these estimates into our December spending brief.

Hospital price growth jumps as economywide inflation cools  

  • The overall Health Care Price Index (HCPI) increased by 3.1% year over year in October, increasing from 2.8% growth in September. 
  • Economywide inflation slowed in October, with year-over-year growth in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) slowing to 3.2% and growth in the Producer Price Index (PPI) falling to 1.3%. 
  • Among the major health care categories, prices for nursing home care (5.1%), dental care (4.9%), and home health care (4.6%) grew the fastest, while physician and clinical services (0.5%) price growth was the slowest.
  • Price growth of overall health care services for Medicaid patients was 4.5% year over year in October, above private insurance price growth (3.9%), and Medicare patients’ price growth (1.2%).
  • Our implicit measure of health care utilization growth increased slightly to 4.6% year-over-year in September, near the 3-month average rate of 4.4%.

In October, two out of five new jobs were in the health sector  

  • In October, the health care sector contributed 39% of all the jobs created in the economy, adding 58,400 jobs. This is higher than the past 12 months when health care accounted for 22% of all jobs created economywide, adding an average of 53,000 new jobs per month. 
  • October’s health care job growth was led by growth in ambulatory care settings, which added 32,400 jobs, and hospitals, which added 18,100 jobs. 
  • Nursing and residential care facilities added 7,900 jobs in October, with modest growth in nursing homes (4,400 jobs) and other nursing and residential care settings (3,500 jobs).
  • The economy added 150,000 jobs in October, below the 12-month average of 243,100. There was little change in the unemployment rate, which remained at 3.9%.
  • Health care wage growth in September 2023 was 3.9% year over year, somewhat below the total private sector wage growth of 4.3%. 
  • Wage growth in health care settings was highest in nursing and residential care, at 4.8% year over year in September 2023, followed by hospitals at 4.5% and ambulatory care settings at 3.4%.


Corey Rhyan
Research Director, Health Economics and Policy
George Miller
Fellow and Research Team Leader