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Andrea Santiago

Healthcare Posts Modest Job Growth in January

By February 4, 2011

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Increased Job Postings May Indicate Stronger Months Ahead

After seeing above-average job growth in December, the healthcare industry added a modest 11,000 jobs in January, according to today's Bureau of Labor Statistics report. The monthly job growth for the industry has averaged 22,000 per month over the past year.

The majority of the new healthcare jobs were added in ambulatory care (+8,000), of which 4,300 new jobs were in home health care services.

Overall, the unemployment numbers are also somewhat disappointing. Although the national unemployment rate decreased 0.4 percent for the second month in a row (from 9.4 to 9.0 percent), only 36,000 jobs were added across all industries. This is the lowest monthly job growth in four months. In the recruiting industry, January is typically a very active month for company growth and hiring, which makes these low January numbers even more concerning.

The AP's take on the job report:

The January report illustrates how job growth remains the economy's weakest spot, even as other economic indicators point to a recovery that is strengthening. Friday's report offered a conflicting picture on hiring. Unemployment fell because the Labor Department's household survey determined that more than a half-million people without jobs found work.

Additionally, some experts suggest that the reason the employment rate went down with so few jobs added is because so many of the unemployed are giving up or leaving the workforce (returning to school, retiring, etc.), and are therefore no longer counted in the percentage.

On a positive note, earlier this week the Conference Board released some promising numbers regarding online healthcare job postings, based on job advertisements on 1,200 internet job boards. Healthcare Finance News reports that the largest growth in online job postings in January was in the healthcare field, which added 78,500 job postings, bringing the January total to 604,400, according to the HFN article.

The greatest demand, based on the number of job postings, is for practitioners and technical health professionals, especially registered nurses and those in primary care. In fact, according to HFN, job postings for these roles actually outnumber unemployed job candidates in those fields by 3-to-1.

While demand for healthcare support roles was also strong, it was not as significant as demand for more advanced practitioners and technologists. Job postings for support occupations grew by about 16,000, with much of that demand being for home health aides and nursing aides.

Hopefully, the increase in healthcare job postings is an indication that many new medical jobs are in the pipeline, to be filled and added in upcoming months.

More: Medical Jobs Most In-Demand

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