So what's next? If we accept that labor costs are the biggest driver in healthcare inflation, does that mean that healthcare employment growth will slow even more? Will healthcare workers be expected to do more, with less help? Can healthcare workers expect to see their salaries and other compensation stagnate, as it has in most other sectors of the economy?
Once again, I suspect the answer lies in the questions. We're already seeing compensation costs decline for healthcare workers, a trend that has been around for the last 20 years or so, and hospital layoffs have become a daily event.
It's worth remember, however, that the healthcare sector grew 466,400 jobs in the 21 months since the recession ended, as the entire economy -- including healthcare -- grew 1.3 million jobs. Since June 2009, the financial, construction, and state and local government sectors lost 1.1 million jobs.
So, healthcare sector job growth is at record low levels in a post-recession recovery, but it is still growth.