This Year's Hospital Mass Layoffs are Consistent with 2009 Record Levels

John Commins, March 23, 2010

There were 11 mass layoffs impacting 50 or more jobs at the nation's nongovernmental hospitals in February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced today.

February's mass layoffs, coupled with the 13 mass layoffs at hospitals in January, are on a pace with the first two months of 2009, a year that ended with a record 152 mass layoffs affecting more than 13,000 hospital jobs.

In the overall healthcare and social assistance category, there were 31 mass layoffs resulting in 2,118 initial claims for unemployment insurance, BLS said.

An informal HealthLeaders Media Internet search has found at least nine instances of mass layoffs involving 50 or more jobs so far in March. BLS won't publish March layoff data until the end of April.

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 631,000 jobs since the recession began in December 2007. In that same period, the number of jobless people in the nation has risen from 7.7 million to 15.3 million, BLS figures showed.

In February, in the overall economy, employers took 1,570 mass layoff actions in February that resulted in the separation of 155,718 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, BLS data show.

The number of mass layoff events across all industries in February fell by 191 from the prior month, and the number of associated initial claims decreased by 26,543. Both events and initial claims have decreased in five of the last six months.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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