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Health care brings in $16.3 billion to S.A.
October 15, 2008

By Travis E. Poling Express-News

The economic impact of San Antonio's health care and bioscience industry grew by $1 billion in 2007 to $16.3 billion and added about 3,600 jobs, according to a report released Tuesday by the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

The 116,417 jobs in medical services, research, health insurance and related industries accounted for one in seven jobs in San Antonio and a payroll of $4.5 billion.

About 12,000 additional jobs at Wilford Hall Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center and the faculty and staff at the University of Texas Health Science Center were not included in the study. Those jobs come with a payroll of about $775 million.

It has been another year of slow and steady growth, said Mary Stefl, a health care administration professor at Trinity University and co-author of the study with Trinity economist Richard Butler.

The overall economic impact has doubled since 1997 and the number of jobs has increased by 25 percent. The average wage in San Antonio's health care and biosciences sector increased 47 percent in the last decade to $40,784, which is $2,500 more than the city's average annual wage.

The only segment of the industry that lost ground in the last year was the research sector, which was down slightly to $603 million in economic impact.

The economic impact numbers and jobs could surge in the next few years with the opening of new hospitals by the Methodist Healthcare System and Christus Santa Rosa Health Care, Stefl said. A new Baptist Health System hospital at Brooks City-Base also will begin construction soon.

While that growth comes from delivering health care services to San Antonio's growing population, Butler said he expects to see more health care dollars coming in from sources outside the city, including investment in research.

“There's all kinds of stuff coming down the pike, and the military medical center and research will surely spin off things into the San Antonio economy,” Stefl said of possible technologies for commercialization.

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