Pharmacist job growth slowing as health insurance costs rise

Pharmacy technician jobs are expected to slow this year, with the average hourly wage for workers at drug stores and hospitals falling for the second straight year, according to a report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The median hourly wage in those positions in 2016 was $23.83, down from $24.80 last year, the report said.

The average hourly pay in the private sector rose 1.5 percent to $27.82.

The report comes as health care costs have been rising rapidly, and as the government has spent billions of dollars to expand Medicaid and pay for expanded mental health services, including treatment for mental illness.

The number of people with Medicaid coverage jumped 9.4 percent to 9.8 million last year from 8.6 million in 2015, according the report.

The rate of growth has slowed in the past few years, as more states have reduced Medicaid and the number of uninsured has fallen.

But as the federal government has pushed states to expand their Medicaid programs, states have struggled to fill the new pools of people, said Dan Schrag, senior director of research for the advocacy group Families USA.

The share of Americans with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level has risen to 12.5 million from 10.7 million in 2000.

In the first quarter of 2018, just under half of all Americans with annual incomes below the federal median income were on Medicaid.

The new report says that for every dollar spent on expanding Medicaid, states must spend $0.08 for every $1 they spend on expanding their private health insurance programs.