Economic update: Good news on jobs & salaries

Published on November 16, 2018
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Summit explores what it means for veterinarians

The second-longest U.S. bull market since 1929 has brought more employment options for veterinarians and increased starting salaries for new graduates. That was some of the good news discussed during the AVMA Economic Summit, held at the end of October.

The majority of economists predict the current bull market could last until early 2021, the AVMA’s chief economist told summit attendees. There’s no guarantee, though. “The economy is both an art and a science,” said AVMA Chief Economist Dr. Matt Salois. “Future decisions such as trade policy can profoundly impact what’s next.”

However long the bull market lasts, there will eventually be a downturn. Between now and then, veterinarians should be preparing themselves to weather a recession whenever it comes, Salois said. He offered these six tips for veterinarians to prepare for an economic downturn:

  • Pay off debt and accumulate a healthy level of savings.
  • If you’re contemplating changing jobs, accelerate the shift.
  • If you’re planning on applying for a line of credit, do so now.
  • Adjust your investments to balance risk and return in a way that’s right for you and your financial objectives.
  • Watch the economic indicators carefully and read the market news daily.
  • Don’t overreact to negative or positive news or fluctuations.

Economic state of the profession

Here are some of the key economic data points discussed during the summit:

  • According to the 2018 AVMA Report on the Market for Veterinarians, unemployment among new veterinarians is at 1.6 percent – lower than the overall national rate of 3.7 percent.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts job opportunities for veterinarians will climb by 19 percent through the year 2026.
  • While overall consumer spending fell 3 percent during the recession in 2008, spending on pets continued to rise at a 5 percent annual rate.

Investors have taken note of the opportunities in veterinary medicine. Investment adviser Jim Cramer, host of "Mad Money" & co-anchor of CNBC’s "Squawk on the Street," has been previously quoted as saying the “humanization of pets” is the greatest investing theme in the market.

For veterinarians, as for corporate America, technology and innovation is another important theme. Continued success will require veterinarians to adapt, innovate and deliver value to pet owners, according to the economic experts who addressed summit attendees.

Positioning veterinarians for success

This year’s AVMA Economic Summit marked the sixth anniversary of the annual event, which is part of the AVMA’s work to enhance opportunities for veterinarians to succeed. Dr. Peter Weinstein, chairman of the AVMA Veterinary Economic Strategy Committee, hailed the economic progress that has been made in the profession in those six years, pointing especially to a wealth of economic research that lays a foundation for continued improvement.

“As a veterinarian, I look at it as going from diagnosis to treatment,” Dr. Weinstein said. “The economic (research) reports, listening sessions, information gathering and discussion were all part of the diagnosis. We are moving to treatment. We are taking the research and insights gathered, and creating movement in a positive direction to increase practice profitability and professional success.”

For more news from the AVMA Economic Summit, look for your Jan. 1, 2019, issue of JAVMA, which will include trends related to student debt and veterinary incomes.

Save the date

Ready to deepen your knowledge of veterinary economics? Mark your calendar to attend the 2019 AVMA Economic Summit, which will take place in October 2019. Also be sure to check out the Economics & Practice section of our website to use our full suite of economic tools and resources for veterinarians.


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