A new national survey shows a pop in confidence among job-seekers in March, and the most confident of all are those who work, or hope to work, in the health care field.
The March 2014 Job Search Confidence Index, released Monday by the company StartWire, shows a spike in confidence about finding new employment among job seekers overall.
The jump in confidence was most dramatic among professionals seeking jobs in the healthcare industry.
The index had been gaining modestly in 2014, but noticeably increased to 53.69 in March, up from 50.95 in February. Scores above 50 indicate a strong belief among job seekers that they will find a job within 45 days.
The numbers show an even more dramatic increase among health care professionals, of more than six percent. The index for the sector climbed from 51.28 to 57.31 in March.
"The high March confidence index numbers for health care professionals are reflective of continued industry growth, driven by the aging U.S. population and a greater need for qualified health care personnel," said Chris Forman, CEO of StartWire, in a statement.
Other evidence confirms the demand for health care professionals, and it's not just for physicians and nurses but for medical records processing specialists, lab technicians, informational technology support experts and more.
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A confluence of factors is at work, but two stand out: The aging of the baby boom generation, and the passage of the health care reform law known as Obamacare.
Obamacare alone has had an impact that is only just being felt: At least seven million previously uninsured Americans have acquired health insurance through federal and state insurance exchanges since the law was enacted, and that number could grow as high as 30 million.
The baby boom generation is creating opportunities in two ways: Aging Americans are placing demands on the system, and older health care professionals are retiring.
InformationWeek notes in a recent report that the need to develop electronic health records has created a whole subcategory of demand for health information technology professionals. Those jobs run the gamut from entry-level medical record technicians to so-called "optimization specialists" who keep the system ticking, to executive-level jobs in hospitals and clinics.
A report for FoxBusiness notes that the demand in health care will go well beyond the obvious medical specialties, creating openings for accountants, human resources professionals and attorneys with an understanding of health care issues.
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Find a job as an attorney in the health care field
In New Jersey, a state labor official noted that mental health-related jobs alone are expected to increase 37 percent over the next six years. Many are expected to be entry-level jobs suitable for new graduates or career-switchers, with titles such as patient navigator and community health organizer.
The Job Search Confidence Index is based on a monthly national survey of job seekers. New Hampshire-based StartWire is a membership service for job seekers that tracks job applications and new openings.