For years, health care has topped every list of recession-proof businesses. The logic is that people continue to get sick, even in bad economic times. But does that automatically translate into profits for the entire health care sector? Let's take a closer look.
From 2008 to 2012, a span that covers the Great Recession and early recovery, health care spending in the U.S. grew at a sluggish 4.2 percent annually. Compare that to the 8.8 percent annual growth experienced from 2001 to 2003 after the early 2000s recession [source: Nordqvist]. Analysts believe there is a direct connection between the stagnant overall economy and lower spending on medical services.
But health care employment during the Great Recession was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dreadful job market. While other industries shrunk from 2007 to 2009, health care employment grew by 6.6 percent or 852,000 jobs. Overall, health care was one of the fastest-growing job sectors from 2001 to 2014, a period spanning two recessions. Health care employment increased by 31.6 percent over those 13 years, compared to overall nonfarm job growth of only 5.7 percent [source: Dolfman].
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the health care sector will grow by 14 percent from 2018 to 2028, "much faster than average" for all occupations. The BLS predicts a 36 percent growth in demand for both home health aides and personal health aides to serve the aging baby boomer population.