As President Obama focuses on job creation when he unveils his American Jobs Act proposal, it is important to note that one sector continues to create jobs during this fragile economy: hospitals and health care. Even though there was no net increase overall in jobs nationwide in August, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that hospitals added nearly 8,000 jobs that month and 75,000 more jobs in the past year. Of the nation's 14.1 million jobs in health care, hospitals account for 4.76 million jobs—more than a third of all health care jobs.
In Illinois, while the state lost nearly 25,000 jobs overall in July, the Illinois Department of Employment Security reported that educational and health services added 2,500 jobs. Between July 2010 and July 2011, educational and health services added 13,600 jobs, accounting for more than a quarter of all new jobs in the state during that time period.
"Clearly, hospitals continue to be strong economic engines for their communities," says Illinois Hospital Association (IHA) President Maryjane A. Wurth. "In Illinois, hospitals provide more than 425,000 direct and indirect jobs and pump more than $75 billion annually into the state's economy—and those numbers continue to rise."
Numerous industries are experiencing lagging growth or even declines, but health care and social assistance jobs in Illinois are expected to increase by 21.7% over the next seven years. Health care and social assistance are projected to create the highest number of jobs of any sector in Illinois, nearly 150,000 jobs, by 2018.
Illinois hospitals are an economic mainstay, especially during hard times. In nearly half of the state's counties, hospitals are among the top three employers. Each Illinois hospital job creates an additional 1.1 Illinois jobs, and every dollar that hospitals spend on goods, services and payroll generates an additional $1.40 in spending throughout the state. To view IHA's Hospital Economic Impact Report, go to http://fb.me/1ij699Hfq.
"We fully realize that these are difficult economic times. Hospitals are not immune. However, further Medicaid and Medicare cuts would undermine the efforts of hospitals that have been creating jobs and stimulating their local and state economies," says Wurth. "Hospitals have already done their part to help support the federal and state governments as they continue to serve their patients and communities."
Illinois hospitals are already absorbing $8 billion in federal payment reductions over ten years under health care reform as well as lengthy Medicaid payment delays from the state. Now, the tax-exempt status of several Illinois nonprofit hospitals is being challenged, potentially setting the stage for enormous new tax burdens on hospitals.
During tough economic times, hospitals keep communities physically and financially healthy. Through a special website, www.ProtectIllinoisHealthCare.org, IHA is urging the public to contact federal and state legislators to protect health care, oppose Medicare and Medicaid cuts and preserve the tax-exempt status of not-for-profit hospitals.