Posts Tagged ‘jobs’

June 2012: Jobs Fizzle

Monday, July 16th, 2012

80,000 was the number. 200,000 is what we need for this to feel like a recovery. And 8.2 is the number that keeps hanging on.  The nation’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.2% (that’s 13 million unemployed workers) for the second consecutive month, the Labor Department said Friday.   Businesses added just 84,000 jobs, while governments cut 4,000. Monthly job growth averaged 226,000 in the first quarter but slowed dramatically to an average 75,000 a month in the second quarter.

In response, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 124.20 points to close at 12,772.47, wiping out the Dow’s gain for the week, and Treasuries rose as investors moved their money into lower-risk assets. And the Presidential campaigns took the opportunity to issue a number of extrapolations and the usual host of inaccuracies and overreaches. The Democrats claimed that the unemployment rate has been trending down since hitting 10.10% in October 2009; what they forget to point out is that that’s because of the large numbers of discouraged workers – almost 1 million — who’ve stopped looking for jobs. The Republicans, on the other hand, said that the jobs report proves that the Obama administration’s policies haven’t worked, forgetting that the US was hemorrhaging 700,000 jobs a month when Obama took office. According to Politifact, Obama’s record is 22 consecutive months of private-sector job growth, beginning in Feb. 2010, during which the number of jobs grew by almost 3.16 million, or about 143,000 per month.

Putting the candidates aside, the reasons for the anemic job numbers have started to sound like a bad drinking-game song being played by the pundits as they make the circuit of the talk shows: The warm weather drew construction and manufacturing activity into January and February, but dampened spring hiring; the manufacturing sector contracted for the first time in three years in June;  retail sales were weak, Corporate profits fell in the first quarter of 2012,  the first decline since 2008, according to the Commerce Department; the European Central Bank cut interest rates – a sign of nervousness about their prospects; the end-of-year fiscal cliff sent ripples through the public and private sectors with its specter of higher taxes and reduced government spending; a lame-duck Congress couldn’t pass a Jobs Bill; Republican governors made draconian cuts and instituted public-worker layoffs at the state level; and the Administration didn’t put a big enough stimulus in place which is creating an undertow. Take your pick.

So, are there any bright spots? A few.  Friday’s report showed ticks upward in average hourly earnings (to $23.50, from $23.44 in May) and the length of the typical private sector workweek (34.5 hours, from 34.4). Also, a curious fact is that the number of teens in the workforce spiked by 140,000 to 4,528,000, or 3.2% of the entire U.S. workforce:  So why are teens making out so well in this first month of summer while everyone else, well, isn’t? The Daily Kos reports from 5 May 2012:  President Obama’s Jobs program, which is lining up commitments from the private sector and from government to create summer jobs and internships for young people, has announced commitments for 90,000 paying jobs, up from the 70,000 previously announced in January.

Healthcare Hiring a Light Among Dismal Job Creation

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

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.

Healthcare Spending Slowed in 2009

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Americans’ healthcare spending grew by just four percent in 2009 (the last year for which statistics are available), the smallest annual increase in 50 years. This suggests that Americans did not seek healthcare because of lost jobs and a lack of healthcare insurance due to the recession.  At the same time, healthcare insurance premiums increased at a faster pace than in 2008.  Additionally ,the number of Americans with coverage fell by 6.3 million.  Out-of-pocket spending on healthcare showed a slight increase.  Medicaid spending rose sharply by nine percent, compared with less than five percent in 2008.  This is a result of more people qualifying for Medicaid, again because of the recession.

The statistics, released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), are a sign that the recession left a deep imprint on healthcare in America – far worse than other recent recessions.  “Job losses caused many people to lose employer-sponsored health insurance and, in some cases, to forgo health-care services they could not afford,” according to economists and statisticians at HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  The report, which has been compiled by the government annually since 1960, is the most recent snapshot of spending across the healthcare system.

Healthcare spending in the United States totaled $2.5 trillion in 2009, adding up to an average of $8,068 per person.  The four percent rise recorded in 2009 compares with more than six percent in 2007, eight percent in 2005 and double-digit increases in 1990 and 1980.  Even with the slowdown in spending, healthcare spending still comprised 17.6 percent of the GDP in 2009.

Recession Hits Healthcare Hiring

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Although healthcare has long been perceived as a recession-proof industry, the pace of employment growth has slowed,  with just 17,000 jobs added monthly during January, February and March for a net gain of 51,000 new positions. That’s less than half the 2008 numbers, although hiring is likely to improve later this year because of pent-up demand.  More than 16 million Americans – one in eight – work in healthcare.  Employment in the industry has grown by 500,000 since December of 2007, a time when 5.1 million jobs vanished from the overall economy.

Even the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, which employs 35,000 people, is feeling the pinch.  The destination hospital has frozen salaries for physicians and senior administrators, reduced travel and overtime expenses and cut 2009 capital spending by $150 million.  Standard & Poor’s downgraded Mayo’s debt in March, citing the institution’s large, unfunded pension liability and break-even operating margins.

In the words of Robert Fogel, a Nobel laureate and professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, “It’s a long-term shift reflecting changes in technology and what consumers want.  Healthcare is the growth industry of the 21st century.”

As 78 million baby boomers march towards retirement and old age, the need for healthcare professionals will only grow.  The current slowdown in job growth is a temporary blip on the healthcare radar.

Eco City is Florida’s Destiny

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

A developer with more than 41,300 acres in Osceola County in Central Florida (just south of Orlando) is envisioning the first eco-sustainable city in the United States  and will be called Destiny, FL.destiny-sustainable-city-florida-bg

Destiny has been recognized by The Clinton Climate Initiative as one of 16 large-scale urban projects demonstrating that cities can grow while reducing carbon emissions to near zero.

Destiny’s developers are currently considering a solar plant that would produce power at about 40 cents per kilowatt.  Intuitively, it would also need to incorporate green technology, eco-friendly companies, a gray water irrigation system, environmental research groups, and “green collar” jobs.  It is slated to break ground in 2011 and will eventually include approximately 100,000 residential units and 30 million SF of non-commercial space to support a population of 200,000 to 250,000 residents.  This is in step with President Obama’s focus on alternate energy.  The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) includes  $20 billion in tax cuts for alternative energy including a multiyear extension of the production tax credit for wind, geothermal, hydro power and bio-energy.  Additionally, President Obama has pledged to invest $150 billion over 10 years to develop alternative energy, which he says will create 5 million jobs.

Physicians Working Longer Hours to Augment Compensation, Increase Patient Accessibility

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

It’s not easy being a physician in these hard times.  Insurance reimbursements have been falling for some time, a situation that is unlikely to change for the better very soon.  Thanks to the recession and the growing number of people who are losing healthcare insurance along with their jobs, patient visits to physicians have leveled off and even declined.open-for-business-courtesy-symlinked-at-flickr-cc

Maywood, IL-based Loyola University Health Center is taking a proactive approach to this dilemma by extending the hours its outpatient clinics in Chicago’s south and west suburbs are open for business.  Loyola’s move to increase patient accessibility is paying off.  In March, clinic visits rose 11 percent to 5,332 after 250 physicians opted to work longer hours.  Clinic visits are up an average of 1,100 each week.

“People really don’t want to leave their jobs and come to our offices (during their work hours)”, said Dr. Paul Whelton, chief executive of Loyola University Health System, parent of the medical center.  “Physicians are making themselves more available.  We need to be more user-friendly.  Our volumes are up and we are gaining market share.”  Some clinics even added Saturday hours for their patients’ convenience.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, Loyola’s extended clinic hours are part of a national trend.  Of members surveyed, 42.4 percent of physicians are providing extended office hours.

I’ve Got One Word for You – “Healthcare”

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

If Benjamin Braddock graduated from340x1 college today, the clueless Mr. Robinson would likely tell him to go into healthcare – not plastics — as he advised the befuddled young man in the classic 1967 movie “The Graduate”.

Although the economy is shedding jobs at an alarming rate, the healthcare industry added 371,600 jobs during 2008.  That momentum has not slowed, despite the fiscal crisis and recession.  While the economy lost 1.9 million jobs during the fourth quarter of 2008, healthcare added 93,200 jobs.  Hospitals hired 11,900 new workers in December, bringing the nation’s total hospital workforce up to approximately 4.71 million.  Physicians’ offices hired 5,600 more staff, bringing that workforce up to nearly 2.3 million employees.

Ambulatory-care centers saw 1,100 jobs vanish during December, a 0.2 percent loss.  Still, that fast-growing sector grew to 521,700 jobs during all of 2008, a 1.7 percent increase compared with the previous year.

“The only major private industry sector that continued to add a significant number of jobs was healthcare”, notes Keith Hall, commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to a new Ernst & Young study on business risk, the global war for talent will be top of the mind for CEOs.  Nowhere will this be more evident than in healthcare.  There remains a chronic shortage of surgeons and family-practice doctors.  Part of this is because U.S. medical schools held enrollment to 16,000 students a year from 1980 to 2005, fearing a glut of doctors under managed care.  Perhaps the hiring by hospitals is a correction to 25 years of no-growth within certain specialties and the continuing dearth of nurses.

In Recessionary Times, Private Capital Drives Healthcare Development

Monday, April 6th, 2009

The recession has put the health care industry’s importance to our economy in sharp relief. It accounted for 17 percent of GDP and added 371,600 jobs last year.  Even when the economy lost 651,000 jobs during February, healthcare added 27,000 new positions.pj-am329_pjnurs_200805061826111

In terms of the construction of new facilities during 2009, healthcare development is expected to fall by five or eight percent.  Yet, the drivers that historically have made the healthcare market so strong – obsolescence, new technologies and demographics – are still very much in place.

The collapse of the $330 billion auction rate securities market which let healthcare systems borrow money long term while paying short-term interest rates – cut off a principal source of capital for new development.  Hospitals have investment portfolios tied to Wall Street, another source of capital that is being cut off.  Endowments are drying up as even the most dependable philanthropists see their fortunes shrink.  Access to long-term debt vehicles, such as variable-rate demand bonds backed by letters of credit, is available only to healthcare systems that are A-rated or even better.  Even when a provider has superior credit, interest rates to borrow money may be as high as six to 6.5 percent.  For some hospitals and healthcare providers, the cost of credit – if they can get it – is too expensive.

To fill the gap, healthcare providers are considering private sources that have the capital necessary to finance projects.  The upside of private capital is that it can be committed over the long term to help hospitals and providers fulfill their strategic expansion plans without the same balance sheet implications – something hospitals are focused on in order to maintain a good standing with the ratings agencies.

In a 0 percent federal rate environment when 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have come down to 5.29 percent, capital is competitive with traditional hospital financing, compared with other cycles.