Health care has become a major driver of the economy, both nationally and in Wisconsin: It still hasn’t overtaken manufacturing as the state’s biggest industry, but it’s gaining ground.
According to census data, there’s been significant job growth in the health care sector nationally over the last five years, although that’s slowed down recently partly because of retirements. It’s the dominant employer in nearly 56 percent of congressional districts nationally.
In contrast, health care tops manufacturing in only three of eight congressional districts in Wisconsin. Senior state economist Jeff Sachse said manufacturing is still Wisconsin’s main industry, comprising 17 percent of total employment. However, he stressed that health care is still playing a major role in the state’s economy.
“Despite the fact that we have a number of districts where health care isn’t necessarily the single most prominent industry, it remains important to note that it is among the most prominent industry sectors in the state,” he said.
Sachse said health care will continue to expand as the state’s population continues to age.
The census data showing business patterns by congressional districts was compiled in 2013. Sasche said the economy has changed somewhat since then, but the basic composition of industry sectors in Wisconsin remains.
The census report shows manufacturing employing the most people mainly the northern and eastern parts of Wisconsin, representing districts 1, 5, 6, 7, and 8.
“Those districts in the state as a whole have one of the highest concentrations of manufacturing employment of anywhere in the country,” Sasche said.
Wisconsin, like much of country, has lost manufacturing jobs over the years, but Sasche said the state still ranks first or second compared to Indiana depending on time of year.