Wisconsin’s 145 hospitals have a $22 billion annual impact on the state’s economy and employ 100,000, according to a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Extension and the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

The health care sector is a mainstay of the state’s economy and one of its more stable and steadily growing industries that is less sensitive to economic turmoil. Hospitals continue to create new jobs and provide above-average wages, said the study, “Healthy Hospitals, Healthy Communities: The Economic Impact of Wisconsin Hospitals.”

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that in 2006, hospitals were among the top 10 employers in 44 of our 72 counties in Wisconsin and among the top five employers in 20 counties. Hospitals are an important economic driver in many of our communities,” said professor Andrew Lewis.

Hospital Association president Steve Brenton said: “As Wisconsin leaders continue to consider the state’s economic priorities and look for ways to create more jobs in our state, they should keep in mind the importance of hospitals and health care to the state economy. This study shows that health care is much more to Wisconsin than hospitals, clinics, and doctors.”

The report said hospitals also support more than $651 million in retail trade revenue each year and generate more than $923 million in state and local tax revenue, which is largely used to fund state programs.

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