In the first 3 months of this year, healthcare added an average of 20,000 jobs per month, compared with an average monthly gain of 32,000 in 2016, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Slightly more than 15,000 healthcare jobs were added in March, down slightly from the 18,000 that were added in January, and far below the 41,000 jobs added by healthcare organizations in December 2016.
Overall, the jobs report showed the economy adding about 98,000 jobs during the month, and the unemployment rate dipping to 4.5 percent. Analysts had projected the economy would add about 180,000 jobs, suggesting economic growth may be cooling.
Hospitals added just about 9,000 jobs, while ambulatory centers, which includes doctors offices, outpatient centers and diagnostic laboratories, added just shy of 6,000 jobs. Moderate job gains were made in other areas, such as dentists' offices and mental healthcare facilities.
Nursing care facilities lost close to 2,000 jobs, while physicians' offices and medical and diagnostic laboratories lost close to 1,500 jobs. Community care facilities for the elderly also posted modest losses.