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Hospital Job Growth Flat in January

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, February 4, 2011

Hospital job growth was flat in January, with only 700 payroll additions reported in the sector for the first month of 2011, Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary data shows.

Overall, the healthcare sector – everything from hospitals to podiatrists' offices to kidney dialysis centers – created 10,600 payroll additions in January, which is half the average of more than 22,000 new healthcare jobs created each month in 2010. Ambulatory services continued to be the main catalyst for job growth in healthcare, recording 8,000 payroll additions in January. Ambulatory services accounted for 160,200 of the 265,800 payroll additions in the healthcare sector in 2010, while hospitals created 50,100 for the year.

January's preliminary totals are in stark contrast to December's job growth numbers. Healthcare recorded 35,700 payroll additions in the last month of 2010, including 8,000 hospital jobs, and 20,600 ambulatory healthcare services jobs. 

BLS data from December and January is preliminary and may be considerably revised in the coming months.

Overall, the healthcare sector employed 13.9 million people in January, including 4.7 million jobs at hospitals, 6 million jobs in ambulatory services, and 2.3 million in physicians' offices, BLS preliminary data show.

The larger U.S. economy gained 36,000 jobs in January and the nation's jobless rate fell from 9.4% to 9% for the month as the number of unemployed people decreased by 600,000 to 13.9 million. The number of long-term unemployed - people jobless for 27 weeks or longer – fell from 6.4 in December to 6.2 million in January and accounted for 43.8% of the unemployed, BLS preliminary data shows.

Even with the relatively slower job growth in January, healthcare has been one of the few areas of steady job growth during the recession and slow recovery, averaging 22,150 new jobs each month in 2010, and creating 828,900 jobs since the recession began in December 2007. In 2009, healthcare created 215,300 payroll additions, including 25,700 hospital payroll additions, and 138,700 payroll additions in ambulatory healthcare services, BLS data show.

The relatively slow job growth in the healthcare sector in January comes even though The Conference Board reports that online job ads for healthcare practitioners and technical workers surged in January by 78,500 listings for the month, and ads for healthcare support jobs also grew by 16,600 listings. Healthcare jobs led a strong first month of 2011 that saw 438,000 new job listings in the overall economy, The Conference Board reported.

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