The healthcare industry will spawn 5.6 million new jobs by 2020 – most of them high-paying – but most unemployed Americans won't have the expensive schooling necessary to land them.
Demand for healthcare is soaring in the U.S., double the rate of the national economy over the next eight years, according to a new report from Georgetown University's Center on Education and Workforce.
Americans pay more per capita for healthcare than the average Chinese citizen earns in an entire year; the industry makes up 18% of the U.S. economy, according to the report.
And regardless of whether President Obama's healthcare reform law makes it past the Supreme Court intact, employment in the industry will still boom, researchers said.
Including support positions, such as hospital accountants, pharmaceutical sales representatives, doctor's office secretaries and more, 13% of all U.S. jobs will be in healthcare.
But 82% of the expected influx of jobs will require post-secondary education and training. Even nursing candidates, whose opportunities will increase 26%, will need advanced degrees.
So-called upskilling is crowding out minorities from the field, according to the report. But healthcare also has the highest percentage – 22% – of foreign-born employees compared with other sectors.
"The pay gap is enormous," said lead author Anthony P. Carnevale in a statement. "The average professional worker makes 2.5 times as much as the average support worker."
Utah, Georgia, Texas, Virginia and Idaho will experience the highest growth in healthcare jobs by 2020. California ranks toward the middle among all states.
In the Golden State, healthcare employment makes up 10% of all jobs. But with 535,870 openings between 2010 and 2020, the number of workers in the industry will expand by 27%, compared with 17% in other sectors.