The United States saw a gain of 678,000 jobs in February—a higher gain than in January—according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The health care industry specifically added nearly 64,000 more jobs in February than in January, on trend with the U.S. economy as a whole.
Health care industry sees job gains
The health care industry gained 63,500 jobs in February compared with January, a significant increase from the 18,000 jobs gained in January compared with December 2021. BLS said the health care industry added 18,000 more jobs in December and January than the agency estimated it would.
Still, the health care industry is down 306,000 jobs, or 1.9%, from where it was in February 2020, according to BLS.
The largest jobs increase in health care was in the ambulatory sector, which added 53,600 jobs in February. Meanwhile, the physician offices sector added 15,100 more jobs in February than it did in January, the nursing home and residential care facility sector added 7,200 more jobs, and the hospital sector added more 2,700 jobs.
U.S. moves closer to pre-pandemic job numbers
The United States saw its second-consecutive month of job growth in February, adding 678,000 jobs compared with 467,000 in January, dropping the unemployment rate from 4% in January to 3.8%.
Still, the United States has 2.1 million, or 1.4%, fewer jobs than it did in February 2020, just before the start of the pandemic. However, if the country maintains its current hiring pace, that gap could be closed in months, the Wall Street Journal reports.
"We are getting a preview of what the post-pandemic labor market can look like," said Daniel Zhao, a senior economist at Glassdoor. "The fundamentals of the labor market remain strong."
According to the Journal, economists say there are three things that could lead to stronger job growth in the spring:
- A continuing decline in Covid-19 cases
- Moves by states and cities to lift Covid-19 restrictions like mask and vaccine requirements
- A potential decline in household savings, which could lead people to join the job market again
However, Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpoint, said it may be difficult to draw more workers into the job market. Currently, the share of adults ages 25 to 54 with a job is 1 percentage point down from February 2020, the Journal reports, and Stanley estimated there are around 1 million people in that age group who are unemployed.
"The notion that there are millions of sidelined workers waiting to re-enter the job hunt soon is probably not right," Stanley said in a note to clients. "The labor market is overheating almost entirely because of exceedingly strong demand, a situation that is unlikely to reverse for quite some time." (Gooch, Becker's Hospital Review, 3/4; Mitchell, Wall Street Journal, 3/4; Blackman, HealthLeaders Media, 3/4; Devereaux, Modern Healthcare, 3/4)