Healthcare employment contracted in August, the second decline this year

For the second time in 2021, healthcare hiring crossed into negative territory, the latest jobs report show.

Healthcare employment contracted by an estimated 4,900 jobs in August, preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show. That’s after a healthy rebound in July that saw 29,100 new hires.

Home health saw the biggest losses last month, as an estimated 11,600 jobs disappeared. These providers have struggled even more than others to recover since employment plummeted early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nursing homes and residential mental health facilities continued to bleed jobs in August, shrinking by an estimated 6,900 and 7,100, respectively. Community care facilities for older people, another sector hard hit by job losses, shed another 2,600 jobs in August.

The employment crisis in nursing homes is worrisome for patient care. Short-staffed nursing homes send a higher proportion of patients back to the hospital within 30 days, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.

Even where there was job growth last month, it wasn’t much. Hospitals added just 3,200 jobs. Physicians’ offices added an estimated 2,400 jobs, dental offices added 2,000 and outpatient care centers made an estimated 2,300 new hires.

Total employment across the economy increased by an estimated 235,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate fell by 0.2 percentage points to 5.2%. August’s growth was much smaller than the 1.1 million jobs added in July and 962,000 in June.

Professional and businesses services saw the biggest gains, growing by an estimated 74,000 jobs in August. Transportation and warehousing added 53,000 jobs and private education added another 40,000.


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