While there has been some debate regarding the existence of a veterinarian shortage in the job market, there is no debate about the fact that the Pet industry and the Veterinary profession is growing. This growth was reflected in the latest numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the American Pet Products Association (APPA).

The BLS released their latest employment numbers for the Veterinary profession, and specifically for veterinarians, on Wednesday, September 6. These statistics serve as a continuation—and some might say an acceleration—of similar numbers that the BLS have released in recent years.

It’s been established in this publication and others that the unemployment rate in the Veterinary profession is very low, especially for Doctors of Veterinary Medicine. In fact, according to the job site Zippia, the unemployment rate for veterinarians could be as low as 0.2%.

During the past few years, the BLS has projected that the veterinarian profession would grow by a certain percentage during the next decade. That percentage has fluctuated between 16% and 19%. Now, though, the projected growth has reached a new plateau. That’s because, according to the numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on September 6, the employment of veterinarians is expected to grow by 20% between the years 2022 and 2032.

Once again, these are veterinarian-only jobs. They do not include Veterinary technician or other positions. These numbers are for those professionals who have earned a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine.

As you might imagine, 20% growth over the next 10 years is faster growth than the average for all other occupations. That has been the case for veterinarians the past few years, so it’s no surprise that it continues to be the case. However, let’s delve into the numbers even more.

According to the BLS, there were 89,500 veterinarian jobs in the employment marketplace in 2022. Approximately 5,000 of them were open positions. If you were to conduct a search on job boards such as Indeed, CareerBuilder, or Monster for “veterinarian jobs,” you’ll more than likely find at least that many available positions and quite possibly more.

This is because the BLS expects there to be 5,000 open veterinarian positions in the job market every year between 2022 and 2032. While not all of them will be newly created positions, an increasing number of them will be. According to the BLS, there will be a net gain of 17,700 new jobs during the next 10 years. That’s an average of 1,770 newly created veterinarian jobs each and every year during the decade.

If the unemployment rate for the veterinarian profession is currently zero—or close to it—what will happen when 1,770 new veterinarian jobs are created each year? And remember, these are just new jobs. This is not the total number of open positions within the profession. The BLS expects there to be approximately 5,000 open veterinarian jobs every year, with 1,770 of them newly created positions.

How does this compare to, say, the numbers that the agency released last year?

According to the numbers released by the BLS in 2022, the agency projected 4,800 open positions each year between 2021 and 2031, with 1,680 of those positions representing newly created jobs.

An increase from 4,800 to 5,000 is 200 jobs, which is an increase of 4%. An increase from 1,680 to 1,770 is 90 jobs, which is an increase of just over 5%. What these numbers seem to indicate is that the BLS is not only affirming their projections regarding the growth of the Veterinary profession (specifically veterinarians), but it’s also indicating that growth is accelerating. In fact, what the agency’s numbers suggest is that even if employers are able to fill existing open positions more quickly in the years ahead, newly created positions will continue to outpace their efforts.

And what’s behind all of this growth? Consumers’ ability and willingness to spend every-increasing amounts of money on their pets. According to numbers recently released by the APPA, there was a noticeable surge in pet spending in 2022, witnessing an impressive uptick of almost 11% compared to the previous year. This surge propelled the total expenditure to an astonishing $136.8 billion, setting an all-time record. Significantly, this growth rate outpaced the national inflation rate of 8%.

However, this phenomenon is occurring not just in the United States. The findings of Bloomberg Intelligence’s Pet Economy Report echo and substantiate these observations. The report projects substantial global growth within the Pet industry, predicting a notable leap from its current valuation of $320 billion to nearly $500 billion by the year 2030. This growth trajectory is fueled by several factors, including an expanding pet population, the growing phenomenon of pet humanization, and a remarkable willingness among consumers to invest in premium-priced pet-related products and services. In addition, the increasing expenditure on pet nutrition and healthcare, particularly for aging pets, is poised to be a significant driver of further expansion in the forthcoming decade.

Consumers are projected to spend even more on their pets over the course of the next decade, and the BLS is projecting that veterinarian jobs will grow even more during the same time period. These numbers serve to emphasize and underscore the current veterinarian shortage, also acting as ominous harbingers of a continued shortage in the future.

The recent release of these numbers not only refute the notion that there is no veterinarian shortage, but they also indicate that it very well may be accelerating and will continue to accelerate in the years ahead.