Health Care: Michigan’s Largest Private-Sector Employer

Health care is Michigan’s largest private-sector employer and directly employed more than 603,000 Michiganders in 2016, according to a report from the Partnership for Michigan’s Health, a consortium made up by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, the Michigan State Medical Society and the Michigan Osteopathic Association, all based in the Lansing area.

The 2018 edition of The Economic Impact of Healthcare in Michigan states that hospitals employ nearly 240,000 Michigan residents. The ripple effect benefits those working in related fields and industries to the extent that, in 2016, 458,000 of these individuals earned more than $21 billion in wages, salaries and benefits, compared with Michigan’s direct healthcare workers who earned $58 billion during the same period. Combined with their employers, those in the health care sector paid more than $17 billion that year in local, state and federal taxes, including Social Security, income, motor vehicle, sales, property and corporate. 

“We really are so fortunate in the southeastern Michigan area to have such excellent health care available and so many choices,” said Valentia Palazzolo, a radiologic technologist at the Royal Oak Campus of Beaumont Health System. “Young people who decide to pursue a career in health care can always count on jobs being available, and they can explore what type of work environment suits them. I’ve always enjoyed working in a hospital setting where each department is distinct while still requiring teamwork.” 

“There are other options like a clinic or an urgent care or doctor’s office. There is a lot of career mobility with employees deciding to train for other areas once they see what their strengths and preferences are. Beaumont Health System is very good about supporting a healthy work-life balance,” said Palazzolo.

Michigan Health & Hospital Association CEO Brian Peters said, “In addition to protecting Michiganders’ health and well-being, hospitals and health systems provide jobs representing nearly 40 percent of health care’s economic activity in Michigan, making them essential to the state’s financial welfare.”

Echoing Peters’ comment, Julie L. Novak, CEO of the Michigan State Medical Society, supplied this view: “Michigan physicians pride themselves on providing outstanding quality care to their patients and, clearly, that aim provides a real spark to our state’s economy. The economic impact studies demonstrate the true extent of the positive impact Michigan physicians have, serving as job creators and revenue generators within our communities, in addition to delivering outstanding care to the patients we serve.” 

Then comes the weigh-in from Kris Nicholoff, executive director of the Michigan Osteopathic Association: “The report is an amazing illustration of how healthcare providers contribute to the economic well-being of Michigan. This is a great tool to show how healthcare employers provide wages and tax revenue that benefits communities across the state.”

According to “Top Employers in Michigan,” a 2017 article written by Kevin Litwin, and published on, “aerospace, automobiles, Christmas tree farming, food products, furniture, information technology, military equipment and mining, plus the outdoor tourism sector” are some of the other areas booming in Michigan. 

Here are some of the numbers associated with a few of these health care providers/employers; we culled these numbers from Litwin’s article:

Spectrum Health System

Spectrum is made up of urgent-care facilities, clinics and hospitals. It is based in Grand Rapids and employs 15,000. 

University of Michigan Health System

Like the university itself, Michigan Health System, is in Ann Arbor and employs 15,000. Its affiliates include U of M Medical School, three hospitals, 120 outpatient clinics and 40 health centers.

Henry Ford Hospital

The hospital employs 1,200 physicians in more than 40 specialties. 

Beaumont Health System

Royal Oak-based Beaumont Health System manages eight hospitals with 3,337 beds, 170 outpatient sites and roughly 5,000 physicians. Beaumont Hospital-Royal Oak is staffed with 8,000 employees.

Bronson Healthcare Group 

Headquartered in Kalamazoo, Bronson employs 8,000 in health care clinics in southwest Michigan and northern Indiana. 

Kintla Striker is a Michigan small business owner, yoga practitioner, teacher, researcher and creator of Kintla Yoga Therapy. She works exclusively with trauma survivors, aiding them in their healing process using a combination of trauma-informed yoga, meditation and mindfulness-based practices. Hers is a unique perspective as one not affiliated with a specific hospital or health care system. Striker says that as the state’s health care industry continues to grow, it seems prudent to pointedly explore evidence-based, integrative health care approaches to improve health and well-being for the whole person, to help individuals become and stay healthy, rather than focusing on what she calls “the narrow view” of managing illness or disease. 

“Our latest research continues to show vast improvements across the board in client outcomes. Although we receive a fair number of referrals from both the medical and mental health sectors, individuals having to pay out-of-pocket for services means that even those earning middle income wages have to make a significant choice about their care. Integrative health care approaches often seem to do a better job of making patients well at a faster rate and at a much lower cost when compared to mainstream care,” said Striker. “Through the leadership and support of hospitals, health systems and insurers focusing on whole person health and healing, the economic growth in the Michigan health care industry is potentially exponential and will have the dual benefit of creating a more prosperous state that is also healthier overall.”

What happens next will likely be the subject of reports appearing sometime in 2020 when, presumably, the 2018 data will be available. 


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