Hospitals shed 3,300 jobs in May, even as the larger healthcare sector created 8,000 jobs, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary data released this morning.
May's setback marks the first month of job losses for hospitals since April 2009, when the sector shed 1,000 jobs, BLS data show.
Overall, the economy created 431,000 new jobs, largely with the temporary hiring of 411,000 census workers. The national jobless rate edged down slightly to 9.7% in May—the same rate as the first three months of 2010—as the private sector reported 41,000 new jobs, and 495,000 new jobs so far this year, preliminary BLS figures show.
Job growth in healthcare continues to be powered by ambulatory services, which accounted for 8,700 payroll additions in May, 8,200 payroll additions in April, and 55,100 new jobs so far in 2010. Nursing and residential care facilities reported 2,600 payroll additions, and physicians' offices reported 2,500 payroll additions.
The healthcare sector has been one of the few areas of job growth during the recession and sputtering recovery, creating 85,000 new jobs so far in 2010, including13,500 jobs at hospitals. Healthcare created 228,700 jobs in 2009, and 618,700 jobs since the recession began in December 2007. For the past year, healthcare employment has grown by an average of 20,000 jobs a month, BLS figures show.
Overall, 15 million people were unemployed in the United States in May, and 6.8 million of them were long-term unemployed who'd been without a job for at least 27 weeks, BLS reports.
BLS information from April and May is considered preliminary and may be revised.