Healthcare dominates the job market.

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on

Healthcare and social assistance are among the most important services; but did you know the category is also one of the fastest growing?  Luckily for us, there’s no shortage of workers in this important industry.

According to Masseconomix, the sector grew by 34 percent since 2004 in Massachusetts. 

So what are the counties that are seeing the most and least growth in this sector?

Figure 1: Sector Growth 2004 and 2020


As shown in Figure 1, the healthcare and social assistance sector was the commonwealth’s leading employer in 2004, and the trend has since accelerated. In 2004 the sector employed 538,081, and it rose to 722,988 in 2020, a near 35 percent increase.

For perspective, healthcare and social assistance has enjoyed a larger employment increase than the two next largest sectors combined. 


Figure 2: Growth in Healthcare and social assistance sector since 2004


According to Figure 2 above, Suffolk and Middlesex saw the most employment in the aggregate in the healthcare sector; however, Nantucket, Berkshire, and Bristol sustained the most employment growth since 2004. The three counties recorded growths at 156 percent, 85 percent, and 51 percent, respectively.

Middlesex and Suffolk however recorded healthcare and social assistance as one of the top sectors for employment in 2004, and that continued to be the case in 2020.

Additionally, the healthcare industry in 2020 remained in the top three sectors by employment for the respective counties of Nantucket, with 731 people employed, and first spot for both the counties of Berkshire and Bristol at 19,383 and 50,164 people employed, respectively. 

The counties with the lowest healthcare growth since 2004 were Worcester, Franklin, and Essex at 26 percent, 10 percent, and 9 percent respectively. It’s important to note however that despite this, healthcare and social assistance were some of the sectors with the largest growth rate.


Figure 3: Employment growth by the top sectors of employment in Worcester between 2004-2020

Figure 4: Employment growth by the top sectors of employment in Franklin between 2004-2020

Figure 5: Employment growth by the top sectors of employment in Essex between 2004-2020


According to Figures 3-5 above, healthcare and social assistance have consistently ranked in the top three sectors by employment growth since 2004 in Worcester, Franklin, and Essex Counties. In short, despite slower growth in these counties, healthcare and social assistance is still one of the fastest growing sectors in terms of employment. 

Similarly, Nantucket, Bristol, and Berkshire, (the counties with the highest employment growth), all had healthcare and social assistance as one of the top three sectors for employment, and it ranked first in Bristol and Berkshire having it as its highest.

To conclude, healthcare and social assistance enjoy a comfortable spot as one of the top employment sectors in many counties. It has the highest employment growth in counties such as Nantucket and Bristol, It is the largest employer in populous counties such as Middlesex and Suffolk, and even in counties where it is growing more slowly, like Worcester and Franklin. 

It’s important to note that between 2019 and 2020, the sector experienced a 4 percent contraction in employment throughout all the counties. Although this can be attributed to the COVID pandemic, as more data comes in, it’ll be interesting to see whether the employment trend in this sector continues in the direction it has for the last 16 years. 


Etelson Alcius is a roger perry transparency intern with the Pioneer Institute. He is a incoming freshmen at the College of the Holy Cross, where he intends to double major in economics and computer science on a prelaw track. Feel free to reach out via email, linkedin, or write a letter to Pioneer’s Office in Boston.