- The healthcare sector added 64,000 jobs in February with gains in home health services (+20,000), physician offices (+15,000) and offices of other healthcare practitioners (+12,000), according to data out Friday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that showed strong overall recovery for U.S. jobs.
- February's gains are higher than recent months for healthcare jobs — in January the sector gained about 17,000 jobs and in December employment in the industry remained largely unchanged.
- Healthcare employment is down about 2% from levels in February 2020.
The healthcare industry faced massive job losses in the first few months of the pandemic as systems grappled with stay-at-home orders and restrictions on nonemergency care, leading many to institute furloughs and some layoffs.
Many of those jobs have since recovered, but recovery across the sector has been uneven.
While jobs in ambulatory care services have seen mostly consistent gains throughout the pandemic, jobs in nursing homes have fallen nearly every month.
Job gains for hospitals have fluctuated throughout the pandemic amid various coronavirus waves and staffing shortages.
In February, hospitals added 2,800 jobs, according to BLS.
Hospitals most recently have grappled with some of their most acute staffing shortages since the pandemic began as frontline workers deal with stress and burnout spurring many to consider leaving their roles.
A recent survey from USA Today and Ipsos Research of 1,170 healthcare workers found more than half reported feeling burned out, and nearly a quarter are considering quitting their jobs in the near future.
In a recent Congressional hearing, witnesses pointed to the difficult working conditions. Margaret Flinter, senior vice president and clinical director at Community Health Center, said some jobs have become untenable because they've "been understaffed for a long time, under-resourced and people are just frustrated."
Staffing shortages have been acute, also, during the omicron wave as more people called out sick with COVID-19. That's led to huge demand for traveling nurses, who can now garner much higher salaries than other nurses, as well as perks like sign-on bonuses.
Recently, hospital lobbies and members of Congress have pressed for investigations into the staffing firms that supply traveling nurses, with the American Hospital Association alleging exploitation of the ongoing staffing shortages. The staffing firms have defended their practices.
AHA has also called on Congress to alleviate the problem through policies like boosting support for nursing schools and lifting the cap on Medicare-funded physician residencies.