Healthcare jobs declined by 29,600 in January, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, bringing total year-over-year losses to 510,000.
For January, substantial losses were seen in nursing care facilities (19,000), home healthcare services (13,000) and community care facilities for the elderly (7,000).
Hospitals lost 2,100 jobs after gaining more than 35,000 in December. Year-over-year, hospitals have lost more than 61,000 jobs.
Many ambulatory healthcare services experienced gains in January, with physician offices adding 3,400 jobs and “offices of other healthcare practitioners” netting 5,900. However, outpatient care centers lost 2,900 jobs.
The ambulatory care sector experienced deeper losses compared with hospitals earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic and remains down 144,000 jobs since January 2020.
A cloudy labor forecast
The degree to which the hospital job picture ultimately rebounds is uncertain because hospital operations may not look the same in the aftermath of the pandemic.
“There's so much bad stuff about COVID, but I think it shined a light on a lot of the inefficiencies that happen,” said Jonathan Wiik, principal with TransUnion.
For example, increased utilization of telehealth could reduce the reliance on certain types of facilities and in-person care.
“As long as the payers keep playing ball, including Medicare, I think health systems and providers can turn that into a revenue stream, position themselves that way and maybe be more efficient,” Wiik said.