Report: Health care even more dominant in local economy

Massachusetts

Among the top 10 industries in Massachusetts, no sector added more jobs between 2008 and 2018 than health care, according to MassEconomix data studied by the Pioneer Institute. (Screenshot/Pioneer Institute)

BOSTON (SHNS) – Health care employers in Massachusetts added more workers between 2008 and 2018 than any other industry, nudging the field’s share of statewide employment upward to nearly one-fifth, according to a new report.

The number of Bay State employees working in health care grew from 627,234 in 2008 to 721,274 in 2018, representing a 15 percent expansion that outpaced population growth, according to a Pioneer Institute study published Monday based on MassEconomix data.

With that jump, the largest industry in the state slightly expanded its position at the top.

In 2008, about 16.6 percent of Massachusetts employees worked in health care, compared to 11.8 percent in the next-highest category of retail. By 2018, health care represented 18 percent of total employment and retail remained in second place with about 11.7 percent.

Pioneer’s report concluded that service-sector jobs have grown at a faster rate in Massachusetts than “blue-collar economic sectors.”

After excluding unclassified workers, the “other services” industry — a miscellaneous category that Pioneer said ranges from funeral home directors to valet parking attendants — added the second-most jobs, followed by hospitality and food service, then arts and entertainment.

Four of the 21 sectors tracked each shed more than 20,000 jobs and at least 10 percent of their workforces between 2008 and 2018: manufacturing, finance and insurance, wholesale trade, and public administration.

Health care also added far more active establishments than any other sector in Massachusetts, according to the MassEconomix data. The 29,159 new health care businesses that came online between 2008 and 2018, a 63 percent increase, was nearly three and a half times more than any other industry.

“While Health Care easily leads in job gains, Educational Services remains the most heavily concentrated industry in Massachusetts relative to the national average,” study co-author Andrew Paxton said in a press release. “The Education sector also has plenty of very large individual employers, notably Boston University.”

Employment in education held roughly steady over the 10-year period, expanding only 0.2 percent, authors found. In 2018, its 313,510 employees represented about 7.8 percent of the state’s total workforce.

Education did, however, add more than 2,000 new establishments in the span tracked, an increase of more than one-quarter.

In terms of percent growth, the largest jump in workers occurred in the state’s smallest industry: employment in the mining and extraction fields increased 73 percent over the decade from a starting point of just 1,388 to 2,407 — pushing it from 0.04 percent of the Massachusetts workforce to 0.06 percent.

Pioneer’s report only examined changes between employment snapshots taken in 2008 and 2018, which means its field of view does not include the COVID-19 pandemic that upended the national economy.

Over the past six months, several of the industries that experienced the most growth in prior years — such as hospitality and arts and entertainment — have laid off significant numbers of workers amid mandatory physical closures and changes in public life.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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