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Healthcare jobs versus the rest of the private sector

Posted by: Michael Mandel on September 15

Here’s a nice chart that did not appear in my article:


This chart starts at February 2001, which is the peak month for nonfarm employment. The top line is the broad private health sector (explained below). The bottom line is the rest of the private sector. Each line measures the difference in employment between that month and Feb 2001.

You can see that non-health private sector employment is no higher now than it was when the recession started. Meanwhile health care has steadily rose.

Note: This chart uses a slightly different cut at the data than the article. All the numbers in my article use 12-month averages of nonseasonally adjusted data, because I was looking at a lot of small industries which are only published in that form, and a lot of state and local data. On a 12-month average basis, the peak is June 2001.

For this chart, I use seasonally adjusted data for private jobs and private health care services, and nonseasonally-adjusted data for all other industries in the private health care sector.

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Reader Comments

Brandon W

September 18, 2006 02:26 PM

I would like to see that graph with housing-related jobs broken out (real estate agents, construction, etc). There has been a 44% increase in licensed real estate agents in the past 5 years to 2.5 million licensed agents. That's almost 764,000 new agents in the past 5 years alone.

A comment from The Big Picture blog ( is telling: "Frankly, I know many engineering people (software and hardware) and others who started a real estate career during the last 4 years. There was only one reason for that. Desperation. After having been laid off, they simply could not find a job in their own profession anymore. Especially the over 40 ones. By the way, some of them became car salesmen for the same reason."

The housing market retraction should start pushing most of those people "playing" real estate agent right out of employment. With new housing construction pulling back due to the retraction, I also wonder how many construction jobs will be lost.

Patrick J. Walker

September 19, 2006 08:19 AM

It looks like if you started that graph at August of 03, the private non-health sector has been adding jobs at a pretty good clip. Could we not assert that the period between February 2001 and August 2003 was a predictable retraction from the vast over-hiring of the bubble era?


September 20, 2006 01:19 PM

I'd agree with Patrick, from July of 2003 through July of 2006, nearly 5.6 million jobs were created in the United States. Comparing, a bubble inflated peak, is a bit disengenous. For instance, if we take the period from 1995-2000, the economy generated 14.5 million jobs according to the CES survey from the BLS. The broadest measure of healthcare employment (healthcare and social assistance) generated 1.44 million jobs, or approximately 9.9% of the total jobs generated over the period. The data tells a slightly different story during that period. Just a bit of perspective.

Brandon, I'd like to note that according to the BLS, Real Estate jobs as defined by the BLS (using CES figures) grew by 167,500 (SA) between June 2001 and June 2006...

Brandon W

September 20, 2006 03:28 PM

I don't know how the BLS defines "real estate jobs", but I would say real estate agents ought to count; and there are 764,000 new ones in the past 5 years.


September 21, 2006 07:09 PM

I believe that the BLS counts people through the CES survey as people who are actively employed within the real estate industry, which is not everyone who receives a license. I think that they may be the difference.


March 11, 2010 03:09 AM

Thanks for sharing this chart and informative article.

Thank you for your interest. This blog is no longer active.



Michael Mandel, BW's award-winning chief economist, provides his unique perspective on the hot economic issues of the day. From globalization to the future of work to the ups and downs of the financial markets, Mandel-named 2006 economic journalist of the year by the World Leadership Forum-offers cutting edge analysis and commentary.

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