Hospital Job Growth Slows

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , May 8, 2009

Hospitals only added 600 new jobs in April, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released today. By comparison, the hospital sector added 11,300 jobs in April 2008, and 7,300 jobs in April 2007.

The healthcare sector—from physicians' offices, to residential mental health homes, to blood and organ banks—added 17,000 jobs in April. That's in line with its average monthly gain since January, but well off the average gain of 30,000 payroll additions per month in 2008, according to BLS.

In the first four months of 2009, the nation's hospitals increased payroll by 8,300 jobs, compared with 43,700 jobs in the first four months of 2008, and 25,300 jobs for the same period in 2007. BLS reports that there were 4.7 million hospital jobs at the end of April 2009.

If hospital payroll increases continue at this pace, fewer than 25,000 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, according to BLS data.

Within the larger, overall healthcare sector, April payroll growth and contraction varied sharply depending upon specific services. For example, ambulatory healthcare services payrolls grew by 17,700 jobs, while nursing in residential care facilities lost 1,600 jobs for the month, BLS data show.

Although job growth is slow in the hospital and healthcare sectors, they're still outperforming the overall economy. BLS reports that "job losses were large and widespread" across almost all industries as the nation's unemployment rate rose from 8.5% to 8.9%.

Overall private sector employment fell by 611,000 jobs in April, and the economy has shed 5.7 million jobs since the recession began in December, 2007. The numbers of unemployed people increased by 563,000 in April and now stands at 13.7 million.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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