Demographics of the Health Care Industry

The health care workforce is made up of a wide array of professionals, including administrators, hands-on caregivers and practitioners, scientists, illustrators, and photographers, and those who provide support, such as counselors and social workers. The industry provides twenty-four-hour care to humans and animals from newborns to the chronically and critically ill. Their job is to combine the art of caring with scientific technology to provide patients with the best possible level of care.


About three-quarters of health care establishments are offices of practitioners such as doctors, dentists, veterinarians, and chiropractors. Hospitals only account for about 2 percent of health care establishments, although they employ approximately 40 percent of the health care workers.

Health care workers in general tend to be older and remain employed in their field longer than workers in other industries. This is due in part to the length of time required to obtain the high level of education necessary for many health care professions.

The vast majority of the health care professionals work in approximately 545,000 establishments that have various degrees of staffing patterns and organizational structures. They can range from very small private practices to very large organizations and facilities.

In 2004, health care was the largest industry in the United States. The 13.1 million wage and salary jobs were primarily divided between offices of physicians (16 percent), nursing or residential care facilities (22 percent), and hospitals (41 percent). The majority of the 411,000 self-employed and unpaid family workers worked in offices of practitioners such as doctors, dentists, chiropractors, and veterinarians. Geographically the jobs were concentrated in the largest states such as California, Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, and Florida, although health care jobs can be found all over the country.

Twenty percent of health care workers were part-timers who were parents with young children, students, older workers, and those holding dual jobs. Many health care workers hold more than one job. This is especially true of those who work shifts, such as nurses. Part-time workers comprised 39 percent of those employed in dentists' offices and 33 percent of the workforce in offices of other practitioners.

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