Health Care

Healthcare employment tops 16 million, the most since early 2020

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As usual, most of healthcare’s job gains occurred in the ambulatory sector, which accounted for 87% of new hires last month. Home health saw the biggest uptick in October, adding an estimated 15,800 jobs following strong hiring in August and September. Home health employment remains below pre-pandemic levels, however.

Physicians’ offices also ramped up hiring and added 8,600 jobs, which surpassed pre-pandemic employment levels for the first time since the novel coronavirus struck the U.S. Dental offices added 2,300 jobs in October. Dentists saw some of the biggest and earliest employment drops at the outset of the pandemic, but the sector’s workforce is now larger than before the crisis began.

Hospitals added just 1,100 jobs in October, another weak hiring month following a decline in September. Hospital employment has been especially choppy since the pandemic began, and still sits well below pre-pandemic levels.

Hospitals lost an estimated $54 billion in net income in 2021 caring for COVID-19 patients, according to an analysis by Kaufman Hall conducted for the American Hospital Association. That’s partly because they’ve had to postpone more profitable surgeries and because COVID-19 patients tend to be complex and resource-intensive.

Nursing homes added workers in October, the first month of growth since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Those facilities rebounded by making an estimated 11,800 new hires last month following large retraction in September, when they shed almost 16,000 jobs. Community care facilities for the elderly lost 4,200 jobs last month. Both nursing home and community care employment are well below pre-pandemic levels.

Total nonfarm employment grew by an estimated 531,000 in October and the unemployment rate ticked down 0.2 percentage points to 4.6%. The economy’s biggest gains were in leisure and hospitality, which added 164,000 jobs, and professional and business services, which added 100,000.

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