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King University News :: Economic Study Finds One Out of Every Five Knoxville-Area Jobs Related to Healthcare

According to a report issued by the King Institute for Regional Economic Studies (KIRES), health care accounts for one out of every five jobs in the Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area (KMSA). The newly released paper, “The Role of Healthcare in the Knoxville Area Economy: Trends and Economic Impacts,” describes and quantifies the contribution of the healthcare sector to the Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area (KMSA), composed of the counties of Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon, and Union.

“This significant KIRES report not only provides valuable information for the Knoxville community, but it serves as further affirmation for King’s emphasis on healthcare instruction at the University’s Knoxville campus,” Jon Harr, dean of the Knoxville campus for King University. “Currently, King offers both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in nursing and bachelor’s degrees in healthcare administration and psychology at Hardin Valley in Knoxville.”

The institute’s research shows that, directly and indirectly, health care accounted for 21.9 percent of the region’s total employment in 2012. Employment in this sector rose from less than 32,000 jobs in 2000 to nearly 43,000 jobs in 2012 in the KMSA. As a result, the health care share of total employment was 12.8 percent in 2012, up from 10.5 percent in 2000. The study also found health care sector earnings averaged $4,228 per month, compared to an average of $3,864 for workers in all industries. Health care sector earnings directly accounted for 14.0 percent of total earnings for all employees in the Knoxville MSA in 2012.

The study also found health care has significant spillover, or multiplier impacts, on the area’s economy.  As of 2012, there were 73,095 jobs directly and indirectly supported by the provision of health care services in the KMSA. This total included 42,693 direct health care sector jobs and 30,402 health care-supported jobs in other sectors of the local economy.

The study notes “employment trends by sector in the Knoxville MSA mirror those exhibited nationwide over the past decade. The main feature of this trend is a loss of jobs in the goods-producing industries, primarily manufacturing, and a gain in jobs in the services sectors, including healthcare. During the 2000-2012 period, employment in health care rose 34 percent in the KMSA, well above the seven percent gain in employment in all other sectors combined.”

Employment in the health care sector increased by 910 jobs per year during the same time period.  An additional 910 health care jobs support 650 jobs in other sectors of the Knoxville-area economy. The annual gain in total employment due to expansion in the health care sector was 1,560 jobs.

The study found that for each additional $100 of wages paid to households employed in the health care sector, an additional $46 is earned by households employed in other sectors of the KMSA economy. The health care sector accounts directly and indirectly, via its spillover impacts, for 20.5 percent of earnings paid to households employed by all industries in the area.

“Growth in the healthcare sector in the Knoxville area, as elsewhere, has been fueled by demographic forces… namely, an aging population,” says Dr. Sam Evans, director of KIRES and associate professor of Finance and Economics for King University. “These forces are expected to continue in the future.”

Evans observes one important uncertainty, as to whether past trends in health care employment will continue or are changed in a meaningful way, is the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

“While demand for health care services is likely to expand, the composition of that demand may be significantly altered with implementation of the new law and its emphasis on preventive care,” he adds.

The King Institute for Regional Economic Studies was formed in 2010 at King University with a threefold mission: to build a knowledge base of the regional economy, to inform public and private decision-making, and to provide King University students an opportunity to participate in research projects.

“The King Institute for Regional Economic Studies has positioned itself as an invaluable resource in the region for economic data,” says King University President Dr. Greg Jordan.  “In addition to reports on the health care industry, KIRES has produced noteworthy reports in the areas of manufacturing, coal mining, gasoline pricing, banking practices, and labor markets.”

KIRES Report No. 9, “The Role of Health Care in the Knoxville Area Economy: Trends and Economic Impacts,” was prepared by Dr. Sam Evans.  This report and the eight previous KIRES reports are available in electronic format at



King University is a Presbyterian, master's-level comprehensive university.  Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities.  Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing.  A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available.  King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity athletic teams.  For more information about King University, visit  King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability.  King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia.  For more information, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.