"Because healthcare job growth as a whole has been strong for so long I am just really reluctant to look at two to three months in a year and call this a pattern of decline," she says. "Healthcare is one of the few sectors that even in the height of the recession continued to add jobs. Maybe we are observing a little correcting of the market. I don't think three or four months is enough of a trend to discredit the other six or seven years of growth."
The loss of hospital jobs in July was offset by the 6,600 jobs created in the ambulatory care sector. But even that job growth is down somewhat when compared with 2012. Ambulatory services created 100,700 jobs so far in 2013, an average of 14,300 per month. In 2013 ambulatory services created 108,300 jobs, an average of 15,400 per month.
Steinberg says the AHA will continue to press Congress and the Obama administration to find an alternative to the sequestration cuts. Until then, she says, hospitals will likely continue to cut services and staff, and cities and towns across the nation will feel the adverse effect for both access to care and local economies.
"Healthcare has always been an economic engine. The jobs tend to be high-quality jobs with good benefits. They tend to be, relative to the service sector, a little higher-paying. It's bad for the economy when hospitals cannot continue their contributions," she says.