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Hospital Job Growth Surge Continues in November

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, December 4, 2009

The nation's unemployment rate fell slightly in November to 10%, and for the third straight month hospitals reported solid payroll additions, with 6,800 new jobs created, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics seasonally adjusted preliminary data that was released this morning.

The healthcare sector—from hospitals, to physicians' offices, to residential mental health homes, kidney dialysis centers, and blood and organ banks—reported 21,000 payroll additions in November, and 613,000 payroll additions since the start of the recession in December 2007. The home healthcare services sector reported 7,300 payroll additions in November, BLS preliminary data show.

The healthcare sector has created 249,700 new jobs in the first 11 months of 2009, an average of 22,700 new jobs each month, according to BLS' preliminary data. In the first 11 months of 2008, the healthcare sector grew 330,100 new jobs and averaged nearly 27,500 new jobs per month, data show.

Ambulatory healthcare services continue to be the major driver of healthcare sector job creation, with 12,600 payroll additions reported in November, and 152,600 payroll additions in the first 11 months of 2009, according to BLS preliminary data.

The gains made in the hospital, home healthcare, and ambulatory services sectors were offset somewhat by job losses in some other healthcare sectors. For example, the nursing care facilities sector reported 1,200 payroll cuts in November, and the outpatient care centers sector reported 3,300 payroll cuts. That same outpatient care center sector reported 3,500 payroll additions in October, BLS preliminary data show.

All BLS data for November and October is considered preliminary and could be considerably revised in the weeks ahead.

Hospitals' 6,800 payroll additions in November represent the third consecutive month of job growth. Hospitals added 9,000 jobs in October and 5,700 jobs in September, preliminary data show. Those 21,500 new payroll additions reported in the last three months represent more than half of the 41,700 hospital payroll additions reported in the first 11 months of 2009. In June, the hospital sector actually lost 200 jobs. Over all, there were more than 4.7 million hospital jobs at the end of November, preliminary BLS data show.

Despite the three-month hiring surge, the pace of job growth in the hospital sector in 2009 is well off that of recent years. Based on average monthly payroll additions, hospitals will create about 45,000 new jobs in 2009, compared with 136,700 new hospital jobs in 2008, 105,700 in 2007, and 81,400 in 2006, BLS data show.

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