Healthcare fell in line with weak overall job growth in February

Despite healthcare’s strong kickoff to 2019, the industry’s job growth fell 50% in February.

The healthcare sector made 20,800 new hires last month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ February jobs report. That’s compared with January’s 41,600 new hires despite the government shutdown that lasted almost the entire month.

February was a weak month for overall job growth, with total non-farm jobs growing by just 20,000. By comparison, the overall job market made 311,000 new hires in January. The unemployment rate declined by 0.2% to 3.8% in February.

Healthcare hiring trailed that of professional and business services, which added 42,000 jobs last month, but beat out wholesale trade, which made just 10,900 new hires. Construction shed 31,000 jobs during the month.

As is typically the case, ambulatory hiring dominated the healthcare industry in February, comprising three-quarters of new hires. Healthcare’s ambulatory sector added 15,500 new jobs last month, down from 22,100 in January. With the ambulatory sector, outpatient care centers added 4,900 new jobs, while home health care added 4,700. Physicians’ offices made 3,100 new hires, while dentists made 2,600.

Hospitals added just 4,200 new jobs last month, down 78% from January, when they added 18,800. It was also a weak month for nursing and residential care facility hiring. That sector added just 1,100 jobs. Within it, community care facilities for the elderly shed 500 jobs.