Help Wanted demonstrates the gap between how many allied health workers California will need versus how many it is prepared to train over the next 20 years — and what these facts mean to the state’s economy. To reach this conclusion, researchers analyzed population data, identified the increasing demand on the health care system, and compared the allied health workforce supply against demand.
Over the next 20 years, California’s population will grow by 10.2 million people — an increase that is equivalent to adding the entire state of Michigan. At the same time, the number of Californians over the age of 65 will more than double.
This demographic shift has significant implications for the healthcare workforce. Because Americans over 65 use more health services than any other age group, the growth and aging of the state’s population means that California will need more healthcare workers than ever. And the majority of those job opportunities will be in allied health — a sector that includes a wide range of clinical, administrative, and support positions, from radiologic technicians and laboratory workers to nursing aides and medical secretaries.
Health care will continue to be an engine of economic growth over the coming years as California's population grows and ages. And even though public attention often focuses on the need for doctors and nurses, the fastest growing sector will be allied health, with a projected 63 percent increase between 2010 and 2030.
California already employs more than 605,153 allied health workers. Between new job creation and the need to replace workers who retire or otherwise leave the field, the state will need to train nearly 1 million more allied health workers by 2030.
The allied health sector in California already generates approximately $23 billion in payroll. That amount will more than double every 10 years, and by 2030, the state's 1 million allied health workers will have a collective earning power of more than $116 billion.
Income taxes paid by allied health workers contribute considerably to state coffers. Based on current tax rates, payroll taxes paid by allied health workers will translate into $1.9 billion in state revenues in 2010, and $9.6 billion in 2030.
Of the number of allied health jobs that need to be filled by 2030, about half are entry-level positions that do not require post-secondary training or certification, and can therefore be filled by most high-school educated members of the labor pool.
The remaining allied health workers require certifications or post-secondary training. However, researchers estimate that California’s universities and community colleges will only have the capacity to train 634,000 of the needed workers, between 63 and 79 percent of the allied health workers the state will require.
Unless California increases the capacity of its education system, by 2030 there will be between 170,000 and 375,000 jobs that must be filled either by out-of-state workers or by Californians who would be forced to leave the state to get the necessary training. Already today there are allied health training programs with waiting lists of one year or more.
Certified allied health positions are well-paying, family-sustaining jobs. According to Current Population Survey (CPS) data, workers with certifications earn 60 percent more on average over their lifetime than those without any post-secondary certification.
But based on current trends, the state’s training programs will not have the capacity to give California workers the opportunity to train and qualify for them.
The question for California now is: How important is it for the state to expand local access to the training programs Californians need to qualify for jobs in a multi-billion-dollar growth industry?
New workforce projections show that California’s allied health industry will be a key driver of economic growth in the state over the next two decades. By 2030, the allied health sector will comprise almost 1 million workers with a collective earning power of more than $116 billion in wages. At the same time, the study casts doubt on whether California’s education system will be able to provide enough health workers to meet the growing demand.