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Analysis

Healthcare Sector Hemorrhages 1.4M Jobs in April

By John Commins  
   May 08, 2020

Hospitals reported 134,000 job cuts, but physicians and dentists offices and other outpatient care venues shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic bore the brunt of the losses.

With the COVID-19 pandemic steamrolling much of the nation during April, new federal data show the healthcare sector shed 1.4 million jobs for the month, as hospitals and outpatient care venues shuttered money-making elective services and slashed payrolls to stem the red ink.

Hospitals reported 134,000 job cuts, but dentists offices (-503,000), physicians offices (-243,000) and other outpatient care venues (-205,000) accounted for the bulk of the losses for April, which saw a record 20.5 million job losses in the larger economy for the month, the worst in U.S. history, as the unemployment rate rose to 14.7%, a level not seen since the Great Depression, according to figures released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"The changes in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it. Employment fell sharply in all major industry sectors, with particularly heavy job losses in leisure and hospitality," BLS said.

In the first three months of 2020, healthcare spending fell 18%, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

As bad as the April numbers are, they may be lowballing the extent of the job cuts, both in healthcare and in the broader economy. That's because BLS bases its employment reports on mid-month surveys and unemployment claims data indicate that millions more jobs may have been lost in the last half of April.

In addition, the jobs report only counts people who are looking for work, and not those temporarily furloughed.

April marks the second straight month of job losses in healthcare.

In March, the sector lost 42,000 jobs, with ambulatory services accounting for 33,300 of them.

For decades, the nation's healthcare sector has been a job-creating powerhouse. In 2019, nearly one-in-five jobs created in was in healthcare, and 374,000 jobs for the year – about 33,000 jobs each month –which greatly outpaced nearly every other major sector of the economy, BLS data show.

The 2019 figures included 269,000 new jobs in ambulatory services, up from 219,000 jobs in 2018, and 102,000 new hospital jobs, down from 107,000 new jobs in 2018.

The April employment numbers are considered "preliminary" and could be revised.

“The changes in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it.”

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

As bad as the April numbers are, they may be lowballing the extent of the job cuts, both in healthcare and in the broader economy.

That's because BLS bases its employment reports on mid-month surveys and unemployment claims data indicate that millions more jobs may have been lost in the last half of April.

In addition, the jobs report only counts people who are looking for work, and not those temporarily furloughed.

The larger U.S. economy saw 20.5 million job losses for April, the worst month in U.S. history.

The unemployment rate rose to 14.7%, a level not seen since the Great Depression.


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