During 2015, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) plans to release a series of reports detailing economic trends in veterinary medicine in the United States. The first of those reports, which focuses on veterinary markets, now is available.

The AVMA Report on Veterinary Markets explores the following topics:

  • General Economic Conditions
  • The Market for Veterinary Education
  • The Market for Veterinarians
  • The Market for Veterinary Services
  • Workforce Capacity Utilization

According to a summary of the report, the outlook for both the near and long term is improving for the veterinary profession, as the recession that began in December of 2007 continues to fade and the

U.S. economy returns to the longer-term growth trend.

At veterinary schools, demand for available seats exceeds supply, which has remained relatively flat. As a result, schools are able to pass rising costs on to students who are willing to pay while filling available seats. But at some point, the report notes, as the cost of veterinary education increases at a rate that exceeds any increase in compensation, a veterinary degree could become less attractive and seats will be left vacant.

Although the market for veterinary education appears to be in equilibrium, the report indicates the market for veterinarians is not. Low unemployment figures, a negative underemployment rate and the increasing number of veterinary practices working at full capacity indicate there is not an excess supply of veterinarians. New veterinarians, the report suggests, are entering the profession faster than demand for their services, resulting in a flat trend in incomes and more veterinarians at the lower end of the compensation scale.

The report also notes that many young veterinarians, particularly women who make up a growing proportion of recent graduates, indicate a willingness to work fewer hours for lower annual pay. This leads to a lower average of veterinary services being provided per veterinarian, partially offsetting any increase in the rate of growth of new veterinarians.

The report’s authors project no significant growth in class sizes of new veterinarians from 2018 to 2025, while the number of pets and demand for veterinary services will grow along with the overall population. As a result, excess capacity of veterinarians will drop to a low of 6 percent by 2025.

The AVMA Report on Veterinary Markets now can be purchased online from the AVMA Store as part of a six-installment series, and a free summary of the current report is also available on the AVMA website. The price for the series is $249 for AVMA members and $499 for nonmembers. The five other reports will be available upon publication. The reports and their scheduled publication dates are:

  • The AVMA Report on Veterinary Markets (January)
  • The AVMA Report on Veterinary Employment (February)
  • The AVMA Report on Veterinary Debt and Income (March)
  • The AVMA Report on the Market for Veterinarians (May)
  • The AVMA Report on Veterinary Capacity (July)
  • The AVMA Report on the Market for Veterinary Education (September)

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