The American Veterinarian Medical Association’s Report on the Market for Veterinarians covers employment, unemployment, and underemployment; income and the net present value of the veterinary degree; and data available on possible causes of negative well-being: debt, job/career satisfaction and income, expenditure patterns, burnout scores, and health.
It revealed that the largest markets for veterinarians were private practice – for example, equine, companion animal, food animal, and mixed. This comprised roughly three-quarters of all active veterinarians.
Key findings of the report include the following:
The market for veterinarians has witnessed the second straight year of low unemployment and increasing mean salaries.
The applicant-to-jobs ratio decreased to one or less in 2015.
In 2015, veterinary unemployment remained below the national mean and was not significantly different from 2014. Veterinary underemployment was again negative in 2015, with more veterinarians indicating they wish to work fewer hours for less compensation than those who wish to work additional hours for more compensation.
The net present value of the veterinary degree has been declining since the earliest data were available in 2010. The primary reason for this decline is the increasing “opportunity costs”: Starting salaries for bachelor’s degree holders grew 19 percent over this period, whereas starting salaries for veterinary degree holders grew about 5.5 percent.
According to the report: “In an effort to address the growing concern over the wellness of veterinarians, the AVMA has been collecting data through the Employment Survey on self-reported wellness of veterinarians. The point of this collection has been to attempt to find correlations of well-being with employment and demographic characteristics. To quantify the concerns about wellness in the veterinary profession, it is important to know the characteristics of those who are at the highest risk of wellness issues.”
An earlier AVMA economic report indicated that veterinarians were earning more money and that their unemployment rate of 4.5 percent during 2014 remained lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.1 percent
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate the mean unemployment rate that year among civilian workers with a university education who were at least 25 years old and had at least a bachelor’s degree was 3.2 percent.
The report also cautions that the risk of recession raises concern that veterinarians may be unable to maintain recent income growth and job satisfaction, particularly as the number of veterinarians continues to increase.
Among other findings, the report indicates more people want veterinary services than are willing to pay for them at current prices.
Data in the report indicate that, since the early 2000s, the prices of veterinary services have risen at a faster pace than has the consumer price index.