Hospitals, health systems have $119 billion impact on state economy

Hospitals and health systems in the state have a $119 billion impact on the state’s economy, according to a recent report from the Wisconsin Hospital Association. 

Hospitals alone contribute $47 billion to Wisconsin’s economy in labor income, total income, and industrial sales and revenue, the report shows. 

In an introduction to the report, WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding noted the health care industry is one of the state’s largest employers and “strongest economic drivers.” 

“Wisconsin can attract people and businesses to our state because the health care sector provides family-supporting jobs across a wide spectrum of worker educations — from high school to an advanced degree,” Borgerding said. 

The report shows hospitals in the state had around 209,000 workers in 2016, including 108,000 direct jobs and nearly 101,000 indirect and induced jobs. That number swells to 571,900 jobs when taking the overall health care sector into account. 

According to WHA, for every 10 jobs created in the state, another nine jobs are created elsewhere in Wisconsin. 

Total health care sector jobs in the state grew 30 percent from 1998 to 2017, while total state employment increased by 12 percent. Over the same period, hospital employment in Wisconsin grew by 24 percent. 

In its report, WHA notes the typical health care sector job paid around $53,000 in 2017 while the average job in other industries paid around $39,000. And during the report’s study period, growth in wages and salaries was much higher for the health care sector than for the state overall. 

It’s also noted that growth in wages and salaries at hospitals “kept pace with the rest of health care” despite employment across the entire sector growing more quickly than for hospital workers. 

Higher paid positions including physicians, pharmacists and dentists require higher levels of training and account for nearly 5 percent of total jobs in hospitals, clinics and urgent care facilities. Meanwhile, registered nurses make up about 32 percent of all hospital jobs. The next largest category is nursing or medical aides and assistants, followed by clerical workers. 

WHA also highlights the “ripple effect” of health care sector employment in Wisconsin. The report shows that for every $1,000 in labor income created in hospitals, an additional $600 of labor income is created elsewhere in Wisconsin.  

More than 480,000 out-of-state patients visited Wisconsin for medical care in 2017, the report shows. 

These patients spent around $2.3 billion on hospital services in Wisconsin and supported around 29,300 jobs in the state, the report shows. Those dollars generated $1.7 billion in labor income, $2.4 billion in total income and $4.3 billion in industrial sales and revenue, supporting a significant piece of the overall economic impact. 

A sizeable portion of those out-of-state patients received care in La Crosse County, with over 144,000 visits. Other top counties include: Dane, with nearly 60,000 visits in 2017; Green, with 35,000; Rock, with 33,000; Milwaukee, with 32,000; and Kenosha, with 24,000. 

Information for the report was assembled by Steven Deller, a professor and community development economist with UW-Extension. 

See the full report: