Hospital-sector recession looming?

The two primary industry clusters in Spokane are regional health care delivery and government.  Nationally, the health care sector is seeing signs of an industry recession and layoffs.

The Harvard Business Review thinks the growth in health care jobs is about to halt because the health care industry has been adding jobs faster than it is adding patient volumes – leading to long term, year over year declines in productivity.  A long term year-over-year productivity decline is not sustainable.

This change has apparently already started and could have impacts on Spokane with its over-sized health care sector:

Hospitals, a reliable source of employment growth in the recession and its aftermath, are starting to cut thousands of jobs amid falling insurance payments and in-patient visits.

via Layoffs reflect hospital recession | The Clarion-Ledger |

Potential reductions are not a certainty but are a possibility.

The following chart illustrates the dramatic impact the health care sector has had on Spokane County employment. Watch the blue line near the top. If the recent decline were to accelerate, per the above linked news report, this would be of concern to the Spokane area.



The next chart is from the Washington Employment Security Department. Their horizontal chart has been flipped and rotated into a vertical format as it makes the sector size comparison easier for us humans. As you can see, the health care sector is the largest single employment sector in Spokane County.




3 Responses to Hospital-sector recession looming?

  1. David Kendall says:

    I genuinely appreciate the work you do. I’ve been following it for quite a while now, and I have recommended it to others. I also wish you and I could correspond by email and/or meet in person to discuss some possible solutions.

    Can we do that? Will you email me?

  2. art la says:

    i found the first chart unhelpful totally unclear. It doesn’t measure in absolute growth, but only in percentage growth. Which doesn’t show the relative gains or losses acurately. Plus it’s not worth much to carry it back to the 90s. You should have focused solely on 2000 forward…

  3. inlandnw says:

    I understand the concern with the chart. Using sector percentages, however, automatically accounts for growth (or loss) in population and employment.

    I always produce charts using as much data as is available to help us understand past trends, as well as current trends. For example, if the chart were cut off at 2000, we would miss the larger change in manufacturing employment, which peaked in the 1990s. An absolute numbers chart of manufacturing employment in the County is somewhere on the blog and the curve is about the same as the percentage curve shown here.

    David – I sent you a private email.

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