Archive for Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Health care, education, government fields hiring

April 21, 2009


Lawrence Memorial Hospital  physical    therapist Marissa Clark works with her patient, Dr. Ken Zabel, in the Kreider Rehabilitation Services center at LMH. Health care is one area where employers are still hiring.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital physical therapist Marissa Clark works with her patient, Dr. Ken Zabel, in the Kreider Rehabilitation Services center at LMH. Health care is one area where employers are still hiring.

Want a job?

It’s not too hard — if you know which field to choose.

Amid job losses in most sectors of the economy, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says three fields gained jobs in the past three years — health care, education and government.

Here’s a look at how to position yourself well for today’s workforce.

Health care

Health care has positive job increase for all sectors recorded by U.S. Census Bureau, the most being in ambulatory health care services (otherwise known as outpatient services), with about 183 new jobs nationwide in February compared to last year.

Enrollment in Kansas University health-related schools is up as well. The School of Allied Health was up three students from fall 2008 and has been increasing since 2002. Enrollment in the School of Medicine increased 20 students to a total of 1,744 students. And nursing enrollment was up 67 students.

“People never stop getting sick, regardless of what business cycles are doing,” said Donna Ginther, professor in economics at KU and director of the Center of Economic and Business Analysis. “The aging population indicates that the demand for health care will increase over time, so it’s going to be a growing occupation.”


Education has received a lot of press recently. First, because of layoffs announced by higher education institutions, and second with the passing of the stimulus package, which contained $100 billion for education.

In the Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment report, education and health services were counted together, amounting to an increase of 492,000 jobs to 19.2 million jobs since last February. Though education gained about 80,000 jobs total in that time, the field lost 4,000 jobs in February from January.

The loss of jobs in education is not uncommon to people in Lawrence, with Kansas University eliminating 11 positions and Baker University with 23.

But jobs in education aren’t the only aspect that has dropped in the past year. Enrollment in KU’s School of Education has decreased by 51 students from spring 2008. Current enrollment in the school is 1,977.

Despite these setbacks, most economists and professionals recognize education as a relatively secure occupation.

Mike Neal, assistant dean of the KU School of Education, said the country will always need teachers. Unless schools start changing the child-to-teacher ratio drastically, he said, the number of teachers will hold steady.

The current average pupil-to-teacher ratio for students in Lawrence schools is around 20-to-1, according to Kansas Department of Education statistics.

He said good teachers have nothing to worry about.

“When there’s a greater tightness of any market, quality counts,” he said. “Anybody seeking out an education profession should think about the quality of their own personal preparation and the school they’re going to.”

Amy Rousselo, peer adviser with the KU School of Education, will graduate this May with her degree in education to become a student teacher for one year. After that, she enters the work force. Though education stands a better chance than most other jobs, she said she’s still worried.

“It’s concerning that I’ve spent five years working on a degree to do something I love, but might not be able to use it in the real world,” she said. “It kind of takes the point away of college.”


According to BLS statistics, a total of 151,000 government jobs were added in February from last February. The largest increase was in local government, with an increase of 66,000 jobs from last year.

Ginther, the economics professor, said jobs in the government are increasing rather than contracting, making them a lucrative job market.

Chelsea Mertz, a KU junior, said she plans to attend law school after graduating from KU in political science. After law school, she said, she hopes to pursue a career in legislation.

“I’m really not concerned about the job market, because it’s so far down the road for me,” she said.


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