Takeaways From a Strong Jobs Report — and One Field That Continues to Shine

The healthcare industry continues to see strong job growth

October marked a strong return to job growth in the United States. The economy added 271,000 jobs last month, according to the most recent jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That was well above analysts’ expectations. It also is a welcome improvement from September and August, when only 137,000 and 153,000 jobs were added, respectively. So far this year, the U.S. economy has added more than 2 million jobs.

October was the best month for job growth this year. And there’s more good news: The BLS reports that the overall unemployment rate edged down to 5.0 percent, the lowest rate since April 2008.

Other highlights from the October jobs report include the following:

  • The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers 25 and older — those in greatest demand by employers — held at 2.5 percent for the third consecutive month, according to the BLS.
  • Employment in professional and business services increased by 78,000 in October, with the majority of these job gains occurring in administrative and support services (46,000 jobs added).
  • Job gains have averaged 234,500 per month over the past 12 months.

October 2015 jobs report

Healthcare continues to see strong job growth

The jobs report shows that the healthcare industry was once again a significant contributor to overall job growth, adding 45,000 jobs to the U.S. economy in October. And according to the BLS, about 495,000 healthcare jobs have been added over the past 12 months. That’s about one in six of the total jobs created during that time period.

The bottom line: The future looks very promising for professionals in the healthcare field. Let’s take a quick look at why healthcare is seeing such strong job growth — and why you might consider pursuing a career in this industry.

The many reasons healthcare is booming

Healthcare reform is a primary factor behind the current pattern of job growth. More Americans than ever before have access to health insurance because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. That means healthcare providers are treating more patients, and insurers are handling more claims. These employers need additional staff to support current operations as well as future needs.

Another big trend is the move to ICD-10 — more formally known as the 10th revision of the World Health Organization’s International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. ICD-10 is an update to the series of codes healthcare providers use to catalog diagnoses and procedures. It’s a tremendous change in how hospitals and doctors’ offices bill insurance companies. Employers are looking for medical coders and other administrative professionals to implement the revisions, as well as skilled financial talent to manage revenue cycle and reimbursement processes affected by this transition.

There also is a need for business systems consultants who can help organizations transition to healthcare information management systems for managing electronic health records, and for compliance experts who can offer guidance on how to ensure those systems meet regulatory requirements. (Find out what innovations are just now emerging within the healthcare field and likely to drive hiring in the future.)

Healthcare positions in high demand

If you’re a job seeker targeting the healthcare field, you may be wondering what types of positions employers are trying to fill — and what salaries they’re offering to skilled candidates vying for those roles. Based on research for our annual Salary Guides, here are a few positions that will see job growth and higher compensation next year:

  • Medical billing managers/supervisors — These specialists oversee the day-to-day operations of a healthcare provider’s billing department. Starting compensation for this role will rise 5.2 percent in 2016, to between $55,250 and $81,000.
  • Medical billers and medical collections specialists — As healthcare providers take on more patients, they need support staff to ensure timely billing of examinations and procedures — as well as prompt payment for those services. These professionals can expect a 5.1 percent increase in compensation next year. The expected starting salary range for medical billers is $39,500 to $52,500 in 2016; for medical collections specialists, it’s $40,250 to $53,000.
  • Member services/enrollment managers — Job seekers in the market for healthcare administration roles will also see starting compensation rise next year. One example is member services/enrollment managers, who supervise the teams that answer questions from healthcare providers and patients about insurance claims and benefits. This position will see starting salaries rise 4.8 percent in 2016, to the range of $58,750 to $78,250.
  • Certified medical coding managers — These skilled professionals oversee the daily operations of a healthcare organization’s coding department. This position will also see starting salaries increase 4.8 percent in 2016, to between $72,750 and $96,250.

How to pursue a career in healthcare

Whether you want to advance your healthcare career or break into the industry, keep in mind that many roles require specialized skills, training and certifications. Medical coders, for instance, must possess the Certified Coding Specialist designation from the American Health Information Management Association. (Read about the specific education and skills needed to land an administrative healthcare position, according to a Robert Half recruiter.)

But taking the time to earn the necessary skills and experience can be well worth it if you want to ride the wave of job growth in this field. The BLS forecasts that the healthcare and social assistance sector will see the greatest employment growth of any sector between 2012 and 2022 — nearly 5 million jobs in total. Given this anticipated demand, healthcare employers will need to continue to offer higher compensation and more attractive benefits packages to woo top talent. And, needless to say, that’s very good news for job seekers like you.

October 2015 jobs report

Tags: Jobs Report, News