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Healthcare employment falls for the first time since last April

Between December and January, hospitals lost more than 2,000 jobs.

Mallory Hackett, Associate Editor

The healthcare sector took a dip in employment in January after months of gains since last April's historically high unemployment rate.

Nearly 30,000 healthcare jobs were lost last month, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics' most recent report. In total, healthcare employment is down by 542,000 since the pandemic began.

On the whole, the U.S. saw slight increases in employment last month, according to the BLS. The unemployment rate fell to 6.3% in January, a decrease of less than one percent, due to the addition of 49,000 jobs.

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WHAT'S THE IMPACT?

Nursing homes experienced the largest losses last month, with more than 19,000 jobs lost, according to the report. Home healthcare services and community care centers for the elderly also took a hit, respectively losing approximately 13,000 and 7,000 jobs. Between December and January, hospitals lost more than 2,000 jobs.

Not every area within healthcare had job losses last month, however, and dentist and physician offices were able to add 2,800 and 3,400 jobs, respectively.

THE LARGER TREND

Job losses don't bode well for an industry already plagued with staffing shortages and worker burnout.

For facilities experiencing staff shortages, efficient planning is one way to overcome the deficit. Having an understanding of the patient population can allow hospitals to allocate workers based on patient needs and employee skill levels.

Prior to the pandemic, the BLS estimated that the healthcare sector would grow 15% from 2019 to 2029, with the addition of about 2.4 million jobs. This growth was projected to be larger than any other occupational group due to the aging population creating a greater need for healthcare services.

Twitter: @HackettMallory
Email the writer: mhackett@himss.org