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Cuts in healthcare may undermine role in labor market

The New York Times, August 18, 2011

Even during months of stubborn unemployment, the healthcare industry has provided a solid underpinning, reliably adding jobs in an otherwise dismal environment. For example, hospitals, nursing homes and the like added about 430,000 jobs during the recession, as the country shed 7.5 million jobs. With the latest government reports showing a meager overall gain of 117,000 jobs in July, healthcare remained a significant contributor with an additional 31,000 jobs for the month, a tad higher than an average monthly addition of 25,000 health jobs in the last year. Hospitals, which had a slight decline in June, added 14,000 jobs in July. While few experts can predict how the stock market's gyrations and government cutbacks this month will affect the health industry, several health industry analysts warn that the sector is showing signs of economic sluggishness that has long kept other business sectors beleaguered. The situation has led many in the health industry to caution that it cannot be relied upon to keep hiring workers.