TUE AM News: State’s aging population impacting health care workforce; Higher-paying occupations supporting job growth

— Patients in Wisconsin are spending more time in hospitals after more than a decade of declining hospital stays, according to Ann Zenk, vice president of workforce and clinical practice at the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

In a recent interview, she highlighted results of a health care workforce report from WHA, noting the impact of the state’s aging population is starting to become apparent. 

“Businesses are feeling the impact of baby boomers retiring every day,” Zenk said. “We’re seeing both in Wisconsin and nationally, gaps in being able to fill positions in our workforce.” 

As the health care field continues to see increasing retirements among older practitioners, Zenk said younger generations can’t keep up with the demands of the workforce. And as the state’s aging population leads to higher health care spending, Wisconsin’s health care system will be tasked with fulfilling greater demand with a shrinking workforce. 

Wisconsin’s over-65 population is expected to double in the next decade, and health care demands are expected to increase by 30 percent, Zenk said. 

“It’s really unlikely our workforce will be able to grow fast enough to meet that increased demand,” she said. “We want to sustain the top-quality health care we provide… We’re going to have to grow the workforce faster, but also more wisely.” 

She says that will mean attracting workers to health professions who will stay in the workforce, particularly in the most high-demand professions. The WHA report shows a lack of access to certain types of care is contributing to longer hospital stays, which in turn ramps up the strain on the overall system.

See more: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2019/states-aging-population-impacting-health-care-workforce/ 

— State job growth over the past decade has largely occurred in higher-paying occupations, according to a new Wisconsin Policy Forum report. 

Wisconsin has added around 115,000 jobs since 2008 in the 11 highest-paying job categories, which have median wages of at least $42,000. At the same time, the state lost nearly 43,000 jobs in the 11 lowest-paying occupations. 

Four of the top five categories for job growth pay at least $60,000 annually: business and financial operations, computer and mathematics, technical health specialists and practitioners, and management. 

Still, the report notes an exception to the trend is personal care and service occupations, which pay low wages but have seen the most growth overall. The category includes hairstylists, child care workers and personal care aides. 

This group had the largest number of jobs gained since 2008, with around 42,000, as well as the largest growth by percentage, with 56 percent. But it had the second-lowest median wage at about $24,000. 

— In the state’s three largest metro areas — Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay — regional job growth has varied widely since 2008, the WPF report shows. 

Milwaukee had the lowest growth of the three, with 3,100 jobs gained. The area’s job gains over the decade were offset by a substantial decline in production jobs, most of which were in manufacturing. Production jobs decreased by 13,000 in the Milwaukee metro while increasing near Madison and staying flat in the Green Bay area. 

In contrast to Milwaukee’s lower job growth, Madison gained 54,000 jobs since 2008, driven by strong growth in lucrative computer technology, software and other mathematics professions. Madison had nearly as many people employed in this category as Milwaukee did in 2018 despite its relatively smaller workforce and overall population. 

Meanwhile, the Green Bay area gained around 8,900 jobs, with a “sizable portion” of job growth seen in high-paying health care occupations. 

WPF characterizes the shift toward higher-wage occupations as positive but warns these jobs require employees with more skills and higher levels of training and education. Report authors say this trend “points to a need to continue to increase educational attainment” at the state and local level. 

Link to report: http://wispolicyforum.org/focus/wisconsins-shifting-job-market/ 

— Milwaukee-based Versiti has launched a new test for heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, a condition marked by a low blood platelet count. 

According to a release from the blood research institute, the new test can detect more patients with certain antibodies than the current test for HIT due to its higher sensitivity. 

Brian Curtis, senior director for diagnostic laboratories at Versiti, says the new test is also “less demanding” to conduct. 

“It doesn’t require any radioactive elements, has a quicker run time, and allows us to provide results in less than 24 hours,” he said, adding the standard test can take up to three days. “There is no other test like it on the market.” 

The Versiti release notes HIT can be difficult to diagnose, and if left untreated, can progress to an even more serious condition called thrombosis, in which blood clots in a blood vessel are created or enlarged. Thrombosis occurs in one-third of discharges for HIT and can lead to stroke or heart attack. 

See the release: http://www.multivu.com/players/English/8656051-versiti-launches-new-product-to-improve-hit-diagnostics/ 

— Foxconn has announced $31 million in new subcontracts for construction work at the company’s Mount Pleasant manufacturing facility. 

The four new contracts come as the company is finishing up roof installation at the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park. The company says it’s “maintaining our aggressive construction schedule.”

All four of the contractors hail from southern or eastern Wisconsin. 

Mechanical and plumbing work for office and assembly space will be handled by J.F. Ahern Co. of Fond du Lac, while United States Alliance Fire Protection of New Berlin will be tasked with fire protection work. Morse Electric of Beloit has been selected for electrical and lighting work, and Staff Electric Co. of Butler will handle security and information technology installations. 

See the release: http://www.wispolitics.com/2019/foxconn-announces-31m-in-additional-construction-awards/ 

See more in Foxconn Reports below. 

— StartingBlock Madison announced recently that Dr. Nhi Le has been named the new entrepreneur-in-residence.

Le’s responsibilities include providing mentorship, providing business development and strategy and making connections for members in various stages of business development. 

Le currently serves as an accelerator associate for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. Previously, she was the director of gBETA Madison and gener8tor Minnesota.

See more at Madison Startups: http://www.madisonstartups.com/startingblock-names-new-eir/ 

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