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5.6 million health workers needed by 2020: study


By Ashok Selvam
Posted: June 21, 2012 - 12:01 am ET
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A new study predicts that the U.S. economy will need 5.6 million more healthcare workers in the next eight years, and most of the workers will need to have a postsecondary education or training.

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce predicts 82% of those positions will require extra schooling or training by 2020. For technical and professional occupations, the requirements rise, as 94% will need the extra schooling or training.

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Researchers conclude that healthcare occupations over the 10 years from 2010 to 2020 will grow by about 27%, to 19.8 million from 15.6 million. That represents the fastest growing sector in the U.S., as production will rise by more than 70%, from $1.8 trillion to $3.1 trillion over the same decade.

“Because of growing demand for services and low productivity, the demand for healthcare workers over the next decade will grow nearly twice as fast as the national economy,” the study's authors wrote.

More nurses are also pursuing higher education, according to the study, as in 1980 only 37% of entry-level registered nurses held at least an associate's degree. That number increased in 2008 to 80%.

Researchers said requirements that demand nurses have bachelor's degrees are “crowding out disadvantaged minorities” from entering nursing, as 51% of white nurses under age 40 hold bachelor's degrees, while 46% of Hispanics and 44% of African-American of nurses of the same age hold a bachelor's.


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