Healthcare Sector Job Growth Continues Off Pace

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , August 7, 2009

The nation's hospitals' payrolls grew by 4,200 new jobs in July and the healthcare sector continues to be one of the few job growth areas in the sluggish economy in 2009, Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary data released today show.

While the preliminary July figures show a slight pick up over the 3,700 hospital jobs created in June, the payroll growth is well off the pace set in recent years, when the hospital sector added 12,800 jobs in July 2008, and 8,100 jobs in July 2007, BLS data show.

Overall, the healthcare sector—from physicians' offices, to residential mental health homes, to blood and organ banks—reported 19,600 payroll additions in July, and 149,800 new jobs in the first seven months of 2009, according to BLS' preliminary data. In the first seven months of 2008, the healthcare sector grew 217,100 new jobs, and averaged about 31,000 new jobs per month.

Nearly half of job growth in the healthcare sector continues to be in the ambulatory healthcare services, which reported 9,600 new jobs in July and 96,300 new jobs in the first seven of 2009, BLS preliminary data show.

In the first seven months of 2009, the nation's hospitals reported 22,600 payroll additions, preliminary data show, compared with 80,200 payroll additions in the first seven months of 2008, and 58,500 additions for the same period in 2007. BLS reports that there were more than 4.7 million hospital payroll jobs at the end of July 2009.

If hospital payroll increases continue at this pace, fewer than 39,000 new jobs will be created in 2009, as compared with 137,100 new hospital jobs in 2008; 105,700 new jobs in 2007; and 81,400 new jobs in 2006, BLS data show.

Even with the sluggish payroll additions, the healthcare sector is still outperforming the overall economy. BLS preliminary data show that nonfarm payroll employment fell by 247,000 in July as the nation's unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.4%. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, payroll employment has fallen by 6.7 million.

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