Even as the nation's unemployment rate hit 10.2%—the highest in 26 years—hospitals reported a surge of 10,000 payroll additions during October. This represents the largest single month of hospital job growth in nearly one year—as the overall healthcare sector continues to be one of the few job engines in the sluggish economy, according to new Bureau of Labor Statistics seasonally adjusted preliminary data released this morning.
The healthcare sector—from physicians' offices, to residential mental health homes, kidney dialysis centers, and blood and organ banks—reported 28,500 payroll additions during October, and 597,000 payroll additions since the start of the recession in December 2007. The healthcare sector has created 233,600 new jobs in the first 10 months of 2009, an average of 23,360 new jobs each month, according to BLS' preliminary data. In the first 10 months of 2008, the healthcare sector grew 288,900 new jobs and averaged nearly 29,000 new jobs per month, data show.
Ambulatory healthcare services continue to be the major driver of healthcare sector job creation, with 12,500 payroll additions reported in October, and 144,700 payroll additions in the first 10 months of 2009, according to BLS preliminary data.
All data for October and September at BLS is considered preliminary and could be considerably revised in the weeks ahead.
Hospitals' 10,000 payroll additions in October represent the largest single month of job growth since December 2008. In September, the hospital sector added 7,300 jobs, preliminary data show. Those 17,300 new payroll additions reported in the last two months represent nearly half of the 37,500 hospital payroll additions reported in the first 10 months of 2009. In June, the hospital sector actually lost 200 jobs. Over all, there were more than 4.7 million hospital jobs at the end of October, preliminary BLS data show.
Despite the two-month spike in hiring, the pace of job growth in the hospital sector in 2009 is well off that of recent years. Based on average monthly payroll additions, hospitals will create 45,000 new jobs in 2009, compared with 136,700 new hospital jobs in 2008, 105,700 in 2007, and 81.400 in 2006, according to BLS data.