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Health care industry has been eating its spinach

Health care is the only major industry in Maryland with a workforce that increased consistently every year for the past 12 years (with the exception of a few quarters in which employment was steady or dipped by a nearly undetectable amount).

The December special publication “Doing Business in Maryland: Outlook 2014” features snapshots of 13 major industries, such as manufacturing, information technology and construction. For each industry, it provides a graph showing employment levels and rate of growth over time.

The information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and was compiled by the Regional Economic Studies Institute at Towson University.

Health CareThe report also includes essays by Maryland’s business leaders, stories about up-and-coming business trends and in-depth analyses of the sectors driving the state economy.

Of the 13 industries featured, education looks the most similar to health care —perhaps unsurprising, given the close relationship between universities and medical systems.

The size of the education workforce increased steadily over time. There were no major fluctuations but there were plenty of visible blips in both directions. On the health care graph, there is only one visible (though small) decrease in employment: the first quarter of 2010.

I do want to differentiate between the rate of growth and the increase in the employment level. The dotted line on the graph shows the percent change in employment during a given quarter compared to the same quarter of the previous year.

Some fluctuation occurred in the rate of growth in health care employment. Between the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2012, the industry grew at a rate of 2.0 percent, adding 6,848 employees to payrolls, primarily in ambulatory care services.

For the past dozen years, the growth rate always stayed somewhere between about 1.3 percent and 3.8 percent.

That means that at any given point, there were always more health care jobs than there were at that time during the previous year.

The other 12 industries featured in the publication experienced contraction at some point during the last 12 years.

Even bioscience, a hot field in Maryland, is more volatile. Employment exploded in this industry around the turn of the millennium but has since leveled off, and numbers continue to dip up and down.

To examine employment trends in your industry, check out “Doing Business in Maryland.” Let me know which trends you found most intriguing — post in the Comments section or find me on Twitter @TDRAlissa.