January 2019 Health Sector Economic Indicators Briefs

Economic Indicators | January 18, 2019

These monthly briefs analyze the most recent data available on health sector employment, spending, prices, and utilization—helping to fill gaps in the official government data.

Note: Unavailability of GDP data due to the partial government shutdown precludes us from reporting GDP-related results for November (including the GDP deflator which we use to compare health care prices with economy-wide prices).

Below are highlights from this month's reports:

  • At $3.73 trillion (seasonally adjusted annual rate), national health spending in November 2018 was 4.7% higher than it was in November 2017; this marks the third consecutive month in which health care spending growth was below 5.0%. 
  • Health care prices in December 2018 rose 1.4% above December 2017, down from 1.5% in November. The full-year rate was 1.8% compared to 1.6% in 2017 and 2016, and 1.1% in 2015 (record low). 
  • Drug price growth at -0.6% in December was the lowest year-over-year rate since 1973. Full-year drug prices were up 1.6% in 2018, the lowest since 0.6% in 2013. 
  • Year over year (December 2018 compared to December 2017), health jobs grew by 2.2% while non-health jobs grew by 1.7%; the health share of total jobs is at a new all-time high of 10.79%.
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