Weak Health Jobs Growth; Mostly in Hospitals and Physicians’ Offices

Today’s employment report, cheered as positive, had a grey lining for health workers. January’s report showed a big boost in health jobs, but that reversed itself in February.

Total nonfarm payroll increased by 295,000 from January, but only 24,000 (fewer than 8 percent of the total) were health jobs. And 9,000 of those jobs were in hospitals. Physicians’ offices saw 7,000 jobs, but employment in other health facilities grew only slightly or shrank (Table 1).

Table 1Looking at the longer term, growth in health jobs have been about the same as in other sectors. However, the composition of the health workforce is clearly changing. Hospitals added 70,000 jobs, but that from a headcount of 4.8 million. Physicians’ offices, which employed only 2.5 million in February 2014, added 74,000 jobs in the last twelve months (Table 2).

Table 2

As I have suggested before, shifting the health workforce out of hospitals and into ambulatory settings likely represents a positivechange, from less efficient to more efficient facilities.

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