5.6 million new jobs in health care

The fast-growing demand for health care will create 5.6 million new jobs over the next eight years, according to a study by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce. That’s a 30 percent increase by 2020 — whether Obamacare is enacted or not.

The nursing workforce is expected to grow by 26 percent, but nurses will need more education. In 1980, 37 percent of entry-level registered nurses had at least an associate’s degree; by 2008, that figure had increased to 80 percent, the report finds. The rising demand for bachelor’s degrees is “crowding out” blacks and Hispanics.

Health care pays well only for educated workers, notes Forbes.

Aside from nursing, the demand for health care support workers such as home health aides and substance abuse counselors will also increase substantially. And therein lies the catch. Nurses and other healthcare professional are well compensated, but 70% of healthcare support workers earn less than $30,000 and 72% haven’t graduated college. . . . By 2020, 54% of these job will require at least some post-secondary education.

Among health care workers 22 percent are foreign born, compared to 13 percent of all workers nationally. Most foreign-born nurses come from the Philippines, India and China.

The demand for community college training in health fields, especially nursing, is soaring as laid-off workers seek new careers. There’s now an oversupply of new nursing graduates in some parts of the country, though it’s expected to be temporary.