If the number, growth and demand for well-paying jobs is any indication, then the health of the healthcare industry is the paramount factor for our national economy.

Not only is the healthcare industry as a whole the fastest growing in terms of jobs, but also the top five fastest growing among specific industries are healthcare businesses: home healthcare, outpatient centers, medical and diagnostic laboratories and other health practitioner offices and ambulatory care services, according to the BLS.

Drilling down into the data also shows that demand for healthcare jobs is running very high, revealing excellent opportunities to put more people into good jobs. And, healthcare is one industry with available jobs in rural, suburban and urban areas alike — everywhere there are people who need care. However, people need some education and training for them. While some healthcare jobs are unskilled, many require skills, including associates, bachelor and master degrees.

Our economy and the jobless rate would be improved if all those jobs were filled, and so would the underemployment problem, because healthcare jobs are good jobs with sustainable wages and benefits.

The healthcare industry is becoming increasingly competitive as hospitals and health systems consolidate and compete with each other for healthcare consumers. Quality of care and patient experience become vital when all healthcare providers are striving for excellence. Quality patient care and job creation go hand-in-hand, because providing quality care for our population, including for the rapidly growing aging sector, will require millions more well-trained healthcare workers, from medical coders to ICU nurses to neurosurgeons. Right now, there are shortages in almost every healthcare professional job category and those shortages are going to get dramatically worse over the next decade.