Apr. 4—The healthcare sector added 19,000 jobs in March, in part due to 4,000 positions added by hospitals. The small increase among hospitals in March was accompanied by a revision of February’s reported loss 1,200 jobs to a gain of 3,300 positions. Those increases followed a January loss of 3,600 jobs at hospitals.

The recent gains may mark the beginning of a return to the long-trend increase in hospital jobs. Hospital employment grew at a fairly steady pace from 2008 through 2013 for a cumulative 5.8 percent increase, according to a March report by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC). However, that compared to a 14.8 percent employment increase in the rest of the healthcare sector.

Some of that divergence continued to show in Friday’s job report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For instance, employment in ambulatory healthcare services rose by 20,000, including a 9,000-job gain in home healthcare services. However, nursing care facilities lost 5,000 jobs in March. 

Longer-Term Slowdown?

Despite the recent uptick, the latest employment report shows a gain of only 3,700 jobs since March 2013. That compared to a year-to-year gain of nearly 208,000 job across the healthcare sector. 

That sluggish growth also fit a recent pattern highlighted in the MedPAC report.

“Finally, in the most recent 12 months (November 2012 to November 2013), hospital employment was flat, reflecting a lack of growth in patient volume,” wrote the MedPAC report.


Rich Daly is a senior writer/editor in HFMA’s Washington, D.C., office. Follow Rich on Twitter @rdalyhealthcare.

 

Publication Date: Friday, April 04, 2014