Reviews | Employment in health care is on the rise. Is this a good thing?


The chart’s biggest achievement is No.2, Olmsted County, Minnesota, where Rochester’s Mayo Clinic draws patients from across the upper Midwest, as well as elsewhere in the United States and overseas. . Mayo has become even more important to the city in recent years, as IBM cut jobs there at what was once one of its largest IT factories. “It is a true blessing to have a world-class healthcare facility based in our county,” said John Wade, President of Rochester Area Economic Development Inc.

Each county that relies on the health care industry must decide whether to double its specialty or diversify so it doesn’t have all its budget eggs in one basket. Olmsted County is open to all kinds of employers, but it emphasizes healthcare, says Patrick Seeb, executive director of Destination Medical Center, which, despite its name, is not a hospital but an economic development agency responsible for distributing infrastructure funds for the state of Minnesota.

Seeb is trying to get people to call Rochester America’s Med City. Google and Epic Systems have opened offices there to work with Mayo on data mining and electronic medical records, respectively, he said. And now other businesses are coming in because of Google and Epic. “They are concentric circles,” he says.

The third county on the list is a less happy story. Breathitt County, Kentucky is in a part of the Appalachians that has suffered from declining employment, shrinking population and poor health. “Healthcare is one of our biggest employers,” says Sue Clair, who owns a real estate development company in county seat Jackson. “We have no other type of job than this. A 40,000 square foot industrial building was built over 20 years ago with public funds but has never attracted a commercial tenant. “Right now it contains the County Breathitt Water District,” she said.

County Breathitt isn’t the only one on the hard-pressed list. Three of the top 10 counties are in eastern Kentucky and one, Cumberland, in south-central Kentucky, all struggling economically. It is not a coincidence. When the local economy weakens, total employment declines and the need for health services increases, pushing counties to the top of the list. Kentucky has the third highest death rate in the country, after West Virginia and Mississippi, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Kosali Simon, a health economist and assistant vice-chancellor for health sciences at Indiana University at Bloomington, did some math for me using her own dataset and found that the share of the A county’s population in poverty is a predictor of its health care and social assistance employment share.

Many economists view the increase in health care employment nationwide as a mixed blessing. “Every person employed in health care is one less person available to work in other industries,” wrote David Cutler, a health economist at Harvard University, in a 2018 article for the JAMA Forum, a American Medical Association publication. “So people should only be working in health care if the extra care is more valuable than production would be in another industry.”

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