2010's 1Q Hospital Mass Layoffs Keep Pace with 2009's Record Levels

John Commins, April 23, 2010

There were 12 mass layoffs impacting 50 or more jobs at the nation's nongovernment hospitals in March, resulting in 798 initial claims for unemployment insurance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced today.

March's mass layoffs, combined with 11 mass layoffs in February and 13 in January, are just one mass layoff event off the record pace set in the first quarter of 2009, a year that ended with 152 mass layoffs affecting more than 13,000 hospital jobs. In the first quarter of 2010, hospital layoffs resulted in 2,516 initial claims for unemployment, compared with 3,003 such claims in the first quarter of 2009, BLS data show.

In the overall healthcare and social assistance category, there were 33 mass layoffs in March, resulting in 2,066 initial claims for unemployment insurance, BLS data show.

Despite the layoffs, the healthcare sector remains one of the few job growth areas of the economy. Hospitals created 33,400 new jobs in 2009, while the overall healthcare sector has created 588,000 jobs since the recession began in December 2007. In that same period, the number of jobless people in the nation has risen from about 7.7 million to 15.3 million, BLS data show.

In March, in the overall economy employers reported 1,628 mass layoffs that resulted in job losses for 150,864 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits for the month. The number of mass layoff events across all industries in March increased by 58 from the 1,570 reported in February, and the number of initial unemployment claims fell by 4,854. Both events and initial claims have decreased in five of the last seven months, BLS said.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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