Health care employment numbers dropped slightly in December 2021. And while some sectors, including the ambulatory sector and physicians' offices, saw employment gains, others, including nursing homes and hospitals, experienced losses, according to a recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Health care employment drops slightly
In December 2021, the health care industry lost an estimated 3,100 jobs, a 0.02% drop from November, according to the report. However, between December 2020 and December 2021, the health care sector added 63,300 jobs, a 0.4% increase. In the year before the pandemic, between December 2018 and December 2019, the health care sector saw a 2.1% increase in jobs.
Since the start of 2021, the health care industry gained 143,800 jobs, but is still short 449,500 jobs when compared with pre-pandemic levels in February 2020, the report found.
In total, the U.S. economy added 199,000 jobs in December 2021, fewer than projected by economists, Modern Healthcare reports. The U.S. unemployment rate also dropped from 4.2% to 3.9% in December.
The ambulatory sector saw employment gains in December 2021, adding an estimated 8,100 jobs, down slightly from November's increase. Physicians' offices saw the largest job increases, adding an estimated 4,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, nursing homes saw 5,200 fewer jobs in December 2021 and community care facilities lost 2,200 jobs. And while hospital employment remained largely steady throughout 2021, it dropped in December to its lowest level since June.
Notably, the BLS December jobs report is based on surveys conducted in the middle of the month, CNN reports. So, since omicron-driven coronavirus cases did not reach record levels until late December, this jobs report doesn't reflect the full impact of the widely circulating omicron variant. Omicron's impact will likely be accounted for in the January jobs report.
"I think omicron is definitely going to be a big headwind for January. But I also think you will have seasonal tailwinds: January is [traditionally] the biggest month for layoffs, but because businesses have had such a hard time getting workers, you won't see as many" layoffs this year, said Sarah House, an economist at Wells Fargo. (Bannow, Modern Healthcare, 1/7; Blackman, HealthLeaders Media, 1/7; Tappe, CNN, 1/7)