Hospital, nursing home employment shrank in June

Another month of job losses across hospitals and nursing homes pulled healthcare hiring into negative territory in June.

The industry shed an estimated 12,200 jobs last month, with total employment hovering just below 16 million, according to preliminary estimates released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday. COVID-19 shutdowns caused healthcare employment to plummet in April 2020, and the recovery has been rocky ever since. June’s hiring dip, however, marks the industry’s first decline since January 2021.

Within healthcare, hospitals lost an estimated 5,500 jobs last month following a smaller decline in May. The employment recovery in that sector has been particularly choppy, tracking loosely with the sharp rises and falls in COVID-19 cases nationwide.

No healthcare sector has been harder hit by the pandemic than nursing homes, which lost jobs yet again in June. Nursing homes had 3,600 fewer jobs last month than in May. The federal government also revised down its original estimate that nursing homes had gained a modest 1,000 jobs in May, finding that they actually shed 3,400 positions that month.

Up to 94% of nursing homes and 81% of assisted-living communities had staff shortages in the past month, a June survey found. Almost three-quarters of nursing homes said the workforce situation has worsened in the past year, and more than half said key staff members had quit during that time.

Employment in residential mental health facilities and community care facilities for the elderly declined in June by 3,500 and 1,000 jobs, respectively.

Hiring in the ambulatory healthcare sector, which typically carries healthcare’s job growth, was weak last month, growing by just 2,900 jobs. Even so, employment in outpatient healthcare sectors has been much more resilient compared with hospitals and nursing homes, and is nearly back to its pre-pandemic level.

Within the outpatient sector, physicians’ offices performed the best last month, adding 4,100 jobs. Dental offices added 1,900 jobs, and outpatient care centers added 1,800.

A few outpatient sectors shed jobs. Home healthcare services contracted by 3,300 jobs, and medical and diagnostic laboratories shed 1,800, possibly hampered by lower demand for COVID-19 tests.

Total employment across all sectors rose by 850,000 in June, compared with a revised gain of 583,000 in May. Last month’s biggest winners were leisure and hospitality, local government education, and professional and business services. The unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percentage point to 5.9% in June.


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