Healthcare Hiring a Light Among Dismal Job Creation

The one bright spot in an August when no new jobs were created was healthcare, which saw nearly 30,000 new jobs added nationally.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Katherine Hobson notes that “The healthcare sector, however, continued to add jobs last month — some 29,700 positions, on top of a revised 29,800 new positions in July.  Here’s the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) chart  with all the details.  As you can see, while jobs were added, growth was only about 0.2 percent from July’s base of about 14.1 million jobs.  Where exactly are those jobs coming from?  That was a popular question when we reported on the healthcare industry job growth seen in July.  The stats permit us to see the specific industries that are hiring, but not the specific jobs.  The BLS classifies under healthcare ambulatory healthcare services — which includes doctors’ offices, outpatient-care centers and home healthcare services — hospitals and nursing and residential-care facilities.  Ambulatory services added 18,100 jobs in August, with doctors’ offices adding 5,600 positions, outpatient centers 1,400 jobs and home healthcare 6,300 positions.  Hospitals, in the meantime added 7,700 jobs while nursing and residential-care facilities added 3,900.  Nursing homes specifically didn’t add any new jobs last month.”

Online job ads for healthcare staff rose in August, according The Conference Board Help Wanted Online report.  Healthcare practitioners and technicians posted 26,300 new job opportunities to total 513,700 in August – -the only gains among the top 10 occupation groups in the overall economy.  At the same time, labor demand for healthcare practitioners and technicians has declined 98,800 since January.  The expansion in job opportunities for healthcare practitioners and technicians is consistent with the BLS prediction that the healthcare industry will be among the biggest drivers of job growth in the U.S. for the remainder of the decade.  According to the BLS, more than 25 percent of new jobs will come from robust job creation in home health and personal care aides. 

“The unemployment rate remains unacceptably high and faster growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn,” said Austan Goolsbee, former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. “Bipartisan action is needed to help the private sector and the economy grow–such as measures to extend both the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, as well as passing the pending free trade agreements with re-employment assistance for displaced workers, the patent reform bill, and a bipartisan infrastructure bill to help put Americans back to work.” 

More than 14.1 million Americans are employed in the healthcare sector; approximately 6.2 million are in ambulatory healthcare services; another 4.8 million work in hospitals; and 3.2 million work in nursing and residential-care facilities.  In recent months, the growth rate of ambulatory-care jobs has largely been twice the job growth rate at hospitals.  Ambulatory-care jobs have grown by 2.9 percent since last year, while hospital jobs have grown 1.6 percent.  While BLS revised down hospitals’ job gains from July — suggesting that hospitals only added 11,000 jobs, rather than 14,000 — the agency also revised up its estimates on hiring at ambulatory-care facilities.  According to BLS, ambulatory care added 35,300 jobs since the beginning of July.

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