Health care jobs expected to increase in region

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Washington region is likely to see a surge in health-care jobs through the remainder of the decade as an aging population puts a strain on the modern workforce, according to Georgetown University researchers.

The report, produced by the university's Center for Education and the Workforce, predicts a 25 percent increase in health-care jobs across the country from 2010 to 2020.

Virginia is expected to add jobs at a faster clip. The commonwealth is projected to have 482,370 health-care and social-assistance industry jobs by 2020, a 36 percent increase over 2010 levels.

Maryland is on track to have 400,560 jobs in the industry by 2020, a 23 percent increase over the same 10 years.

The District could have 63,620 jobs, which represents a 20 percent increase.

"The correlations we find are largely income-based," said Anthony Carnevale, the center's director. "The more middle-class and upper-middle-class people in an area, the more doctors you get. The more doctors you get, you tend to get a roughly equivalent share of support workers."

The report cites the graying baby-boomer population as the biggest driver behind the anticipated rise in demand for health care.

People older than 65 use a significant portion of medical services, and that increases further for those who live beyond 85, the report says. What's more, the rise in obesity-related illnesses, such as hypertension and Type 2 diabetes, is expected to contribute to rising health-care costs.

The Georgetown study concludes that D.C. waistlines are thinner on average than in other parts of the country. Still, the numbers are hardly encouraging.

In the District, 56.2 percent of residents are overweight or obese. That compares with 61.2 percent of Virginians and 66.1 percent of Marylanders.

Local health-care providers say the projected increases match their own expectations as population changes contribute to greater demand for medical services, such as surgery and orthopedics.

Angela Mannino, senior vice president of human resources at Inova Health System, said the company employs 13,000 people across Northern Virginia.

But 20 percent of its nurses are 50 or older and will need to be replaced as they retire. New graduates are plentiful in this region, Mannino said, even if demand for nurses with a bachelor's degree or higher has increased in recent years. Experience is more difficult to find.

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