Healthcare jobs in uneven recovery after big spring losses

3 key takeaways from HCA, Tenet's latest public comments

Dive Brief:

The healthcare sector added 53,000 jobs in September, led by offices of physicians, other health practitioners and home healthcare services, which gained 18,000, 14,000 and 16,000 jobs respectively, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Hospitals posted job losses in September, though minimal, following two months of gains. Ambulatory service and dentist office jobs continue to steadily recover after major spring losses.
Overall, the unemployment rate across all industries dropped to 7.9%, though on the decline for five consecutive months, it’s still a far cry from February’s low of 3.5%.

Dive Insight:
When the threat of COVID-19 became clear this April, the healthcare sector shed 1.4 million jobs. Ambulatory services faced steep declines amid widespread cancelations of elective procedures, and social distancing measures led offices of dentists and other physicians to initially hemorrhage employees.
About five months after the steepest declines, some occupations are recovering, albeit smoother than others, according to BLS’ most recent jobs report.
Some of the sectors initially hit hardest, such as ambulatory services, have posted gains every month since April and are inching closer to their pre-pandemic levels. Ambulatory services added about 62,000 jobs in September’s jobs report.

Rebecca Pifer/Healthcare Dive, BLS data
 

The same goes for dentists’ offices, though growth appears to be slowing. Dentists lost over 500,000 jobs in April – a stunning 52% drop. They’re now back to about 940,000 jobs, though still about 35,000 jobs short from January.

Rebecca Pifer/Healthcare Dive, BLS data
 

Hospitals in particular have dealt with major pandemic-related financial losses leading to workforce reductions. Many of the country’s largest operators instituted furloughs and some issued pay cuts and layoffs.
Following two months of gains, hospitals lost 12,000 jobs in September. Hospitals are still over 100,000 jobs away from where they were in January. 

Rebecca Pifer/Healthcare Dive. BLS data
 

The sector with the rockiest recovery appears to be nursing and residential care facilities. They’ve lost jobs every month since April, a trend industry experts say was accelerated by the pandemic after being brutally hit earlier this year given their vulnerable populations.
But that could be posing a bright spot for home healthcare services, who’ve posted consistent gains in recent months. 

Rebecca Pifer/Healthcare Dive, BLS data
 

 

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