May healthcare job growth is half of 12-month average
Growth in healthcare jobs slowed to levels not seen since January, primarily because hospitals shed 5,900 jobs for the month, according to preliminary, seasonally adjusted figures released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Healthcare overall added 10,700 jobs in May, less than half the 12-month average of about 24,000 a month. Meanwhile, the government revised last month’s figures for healthcare, showing that the sector added more than 5,000 jobs on top of the figure previously reported for April. Overall nonfarm employment increased by 175,000 jobs in May. The unemployment rate, however, rose to 7.6% from 7.5% as more people looked for work, according to the BLS. While hospitals had a down month, outpatient care centers and home healthcare continued to make up for the decline. Home healthcare enjoyed its biggest month of the year, adding 12,900 jobs. Don’t expect a downward spiral in hospital jobs, said Mark Smith, president of physician search and consulting firm Merritt Hawkins & Associates, a division of AMN Healthcare. Hospitals have added 48,800 jobs since May 2012. “It gets your attention when you see a drop of 6K, but you also forget how much the sector has grown in the past year,” Smith said. Job reductions associated with hospital consolidation could be one reason for the sudden drop, he said—those deals come with the promise of eliminating redundancies. Another reason could be the increase in outpatient care and a shift of hospital resources to other settings, he said.