Healthcare created more jobs than any other sector in 2016, helping to drive total annual job growth to 2.2 million, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In December alone, healthcare added 43,200 jobs—a good chunk of the 156,000 total nonfarm jobs added last month. Year over year, healthcare added 406,600 jobs. The industry accounted for 15.8 million jobs at the end of the December.
Most of the growth in healthcare occurred in ambulatory-care services, which added 29,700 jobs, followed by hospitals, which added 10,700.
In 2016, the healthcare industry grew by 35,000 jobs per month on average. That's slightly less that in 2015, when jobs in the sector grew by an average of 39,000 a month, according to the federal data. In 2015, 2.7 million jobs were created.
The unemployment rate ticked up slightly from to 4.7% in December from 4.6% in November.
While healthcare has continuously been the leading job-producer, that may change if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. A report released late last week by the Commonwealth Fund and the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University found that repealing key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including the insurance premium tax credits and Medicaid expansion, could lead to
2.6 million people losing jobs in 2019. By 2021, nearly 3 million jobs in healthcare and other sectors could be lost.
A third of those lost jobs would be in healthcare, according to the report. If the ACA is repealed and millions of people lose insurance, hospitals and other healthcare providers would see uncompensated care soar, which would lead to lost revenue and consequently, job losses.
“Repealing key parts of the ACA could trigger massive job losses and a slump in consumer and business spending that would affect all sectors of state economies,” Milken Institute's Leighton Ku, lead author of the study, said in a statement. “Cuts in federal funding would not only harm the healthcare industry and its employees but could lead to serious economic distress for states, including a $1.5 trillion reduction in gross state product from 2019 to 2023.”