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Hospitals continue to shed jobs in May as healthcare bounces back

June 05, 2020 

TARA BANNOW

Healthcare hiring began to bounce in May, but hosptial still shed jobs as the COVID-19 pandemic affected their finances.

Hospitals shed 26,700 jobs in May, which is not as steep as the BLS’ estimate that they lost 135,000 jobs in April. Several health systems including UW Medicine in Wisconsin and Cape Cod Health Care in Massachusetts announced new furloughs in May and others inclulding Essentia Health in Minnesota laid off workers.

Many providers stopped performing non-emergent procedures in late March and resumed them in May. A Kaufman Hall analysis found April was the worst month ever for hospital operating margins.

Overall, May’s healthcare hiring hinted at a promising recovery for the industry as providers usher patients back in and restart procedures that had been suspended due to COVID-19.

The U.S. healthcare industry added an estimated 312,400 jobs last month, a dramatic upswing after having lost 1.4 million jobs in April, preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show. April contains most of the economic damage from the pandemic.

Within healthcare, the ambulatory sector added 375,700 new jobs, mostly in dentists’ offices, which added 244,800. Dentists’ offices across the country largely closed in March and April due to COVID-19 related stay-at-home orders and were the hardest hit healthcare sector in April, having shed 503,000 jobs. As states begin to re-open businesses, dentists have been a part of that wave, often with significantly increased personal protective equipment requirements.

Offices of other healthcare practitioners added 73,100 jobs, while physicians’ offices added 51,300. Home health care shed 3,000 jobs.

Employment in nursing care facilities fell by 18,000 jobs in May, and by 10,800 jobs in residential mental health facilities. Community care facilities for the elderly declined by 8,300 jobs.

May’s report also highlighted a broader economic recovery, with 2.5 million jobs added and the unemployment rate falling to 13.3%, from 14.7% in April. The BLS said that’s because of the resumption of limited economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April because of the pandemic.

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michael schoeneman
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