Healthcare employment growth stalls

February marks the third consecutive month employment in the healthcare sector remains essentially unchanged

The nation’s overall employment numbers beat economists’ expectations in February, but the healthcare sector job growth seems to have stalled.

The United States added 175,000 jobs in February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, beating expectations by about 25,000. The healthcare sector added about 9,500 jobs, making February the third consecutive month of little change in a sector that has historically seen job growth even when other sectors have not.

[See also: Employment in 2014 off to slow start]

Within the healthcare sector, employment in hospitals was down again, with a loss of 1,200 jobs. Over the last three months, noted BLS, hospital employment is down by 10,000.

Home healthcare services lost the most jobs (3,800) in the sector. Physician offices added 8,200 and nursing and residential care facilities added 2,300.

Those sectors with strong employment gains included professional and business services (79,000), helped in part by the addition of more than 24,000 jobs in temporary help services, and wholesale trade, which added 15,000 jobs.

BLS noted that over the past 12 months, the country’s job growth averaged 189,000 per month and that the unemployment rate (6.7 percent) didn’t change much from last month’s rate (6.6 percent).