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Hospitals Cut Jobs in August, But Overall Healthcare Job Growth is Up

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 4, 2009

The nation's hospitals shed 700 jobs in August, posting the second such month-to-month decline since June, when overall hospital payrolls shrank by 200 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' seasonably adjusted preliminary data.

Even with the slight decline in August hospital employment—which is based on preliminary data and subject to considerable revision in the weeks ahead—the healthcare sector continues to be one of the few job growth areas in the sluggish economy in 2009, BLS figures show.

Overall, the healthcare sector—from physicians' offices, to residential mental health homes, kidney dialysis centers, and blood and organ banks—reported 27,900 payroll additions in August, and 180,400 new jobs in the first eight months of 2009, according to BLS' preliminary data. In the first eight months of 2008, the healthcare sector grew 242,100 new jobs, and averaged 30,262 new jobs per month, preliminary data show.

Nearly two-thirds of job growth in the healthcare sector is in ambulatory healthcare services, which reported 18,300 new jobs in August and 119,600 new jobs in the first eight of 2009, BLS preliminary data show.

For hospitals, however, the preliminary August figures show a sharp reversal from the 2,600 new hospital jobs reported preliminarily in July. Hospital payroll growth is well off the pace set in recent years, when the hospital sector added 13,900 jobs in August 2008, and 8,300 jobs in August 2007, BLS data show.

In the first eight months of 2009, the nation's hospitals reported 17,100 payroll additions, preliminary data show, compared with 94,100 payroll additions in the first eight months of 2008, and 66,800 additions for the same period in 2007. BLS reports that there were more than 4.7 million hospital payroll jobs at the end of August 2009.

If hospital payroll increases continue at this pace, fewer than 25,650 new jobs will be created in 2009, as compared with 137,100 new hospital jobs in 2008; 105,700 new jobs in 2007; and 81,400 new jobs in 2006, BLS data show.

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