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Health Care Workforce Continues to Shift Away from Hospitals



Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics latest employment report shows that health care continues to add jobs at about the same rate as the rest of the economy, the shift of jobs to the outpatient setting continues.

From March to April, hospitals barely added two thousand new workers. Physicians’ offices, on the other hand, added six thousand, while providers other than hospitals added jobs at a faster rate than hospitals. This is a trend that has persisted for months.

Hopefully, it portends a change in practice to lower-cost settings. Nevertheless, hospitals are still adding workers. The hospital lobby often complains that reduced government reimbursement is causing cutbacks. The data do not confirm this.

Further, the unemployment rate in the education and health-services sectors is just 3.7 percent (only government workers, with an unemployment rate of 2.7 percent, are doing better). Were the hospitals to actually reduce their workforce somewhat, we could plausibly anticipate that many of those workers would quickly be picked up by physicians’ offices and other health-services providers.

Employment Situation Summary (thousands, seasonally adjusted)

March 2014

April

2014

Change

Percentage Change

Total Nonfarm

137,964

138,252

288

0.21%

Health

14,650

14,668

19

0.13%

Ambulatory

6,612

6,625

13

0.19%

Offices of Physicians

2,478

2,483

6

0.23%

Outpatient care centers

707

710

4

0.50%

Home health care services

1,271

1,273

3

0.20%

Hospitals

4,793

4,795

2

0.04%

Nursing & residential care facilities

3,244

3,248

4

0.14%

Nursing care facilities

1,648

1,652

4

0.22%

Total Nonfarm less health

123,315

123,584

269

0.22%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Employment Situation—April 2014 (May 2, 2014)
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