Healthcare Hiring to Continue, Albeit Slowly, in 2011

John Commins, January 24, 2011

The growth in the demand for healthcare workers -- though healthy when compared with the rest of the economy – slowed in the last two quarters of 2010, and likely will continue to expand at a tepid pace well into 2011, says David Cherner, managing partner with Health Workforce Solutions.

"Our results this quarter were a little disappointing given what we had seen earlier this year," said Cherner, who this month issued the HWS Labor Market Pulse Index, at a quarterly barometer of local market healthcare workforce fluctuations released.

"Like the broader economic data, the healthcare labor market began 2010 with some marked improvement over the prior year and the promise of great strength by Q4. Unfortunately that didn't materialize as many of us had hoped," Cherner said. "We are not likely to see more meaningful gains until later this year but those gains should be much more sustainable."

LMPI found that near-term demand for healthcare workers is growing fastest in Orlando and in Detroit in the second quarter, while the Las Vegas, New York City, and Houston markets ranked at the bottom of the 30 markets tracked. "There are select parts of the country that are still weak," Cherner says. "But on the whole, the healthcare labor market as measured by our composite index, continues to strengthen."

Cherner says the fourth quarter of 2010 showed the near-term demand for healthcare workers is the strongest in Tampa, Riverside/San Bernardino and Phoenix. The San Jose, Chicago and San Francisco Bay Area markets ranked at the bottom of the 30 markets tracked.

"We've have seen some stagnation in the fourth quarter in the index so that is two straight quarters. In the third quarter it went down about 13% and this quarter went down about 3%. There is no reason why the healthcare labor market is not going to continue to outperform other sectors. We just don't expect from what we have seen in the fourth quarter of 2011 that any meaningful improvements will happen until later in 2011, most likely the third or fourth quarter."

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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