Cherner attributes the slowdown to continued layoffs by hospitals that are coping with reimbursement cuts from Medicare, declines in demand for elective surgeries, and the continuing waves of hospital and health system consolidations that are likely to continue into the near future.
"That being said, looking forward there are some bright spots," Cherner says. "Community health centers, a key component of healthcare delivery, are getting a tremendous amount of investment over the next five years that will likely fuel notable additional hiring across the country in 2011 and beyond. And on the hospital side, on the patient care services side, there is not much more for hospitals to cut without impacting quality. So, many of the cuts that will be made because of the decline in demand will be made in non-patient care personnel."
Among the LMPI findings for the fourth quarter of 2010:
It's important to remember that while things could be better in healthcare hiring, they could be a lot worse, too.