Hospitals in March posted their strongest month of hiring in nearly a year as the national economy recorded a sixth consecutive month of job gains and the overall unemployment rate edged down to 8.8%.
Overall, healthcare as an industry was a relative bright spot in the economy, accounting for 36,600 of the 230,000 private-sector jobs added in the U.S. in March, according to seasonally adjusted preliminary figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The healthcare workforce rose above 14 million for the first time ever in March, growing by 0.3% since the prior month. Healthcare employment, including hospitals, doctor's offices and nursing facilities, has grown by 2.1% in the past 12 months.
Hospitals added about 10,200 workers in March, growing by a monthly rate of 0.2%—by far the swiftest expansion since April 2010. Hospitals had 4.7 million employees in March 2011, with the latest figures boosting the one-year growth rate to 0.4%.
Physician offices added 7,600 jobs in March, growing by 0.3% in the month in a workforce of 2.3 million. Doctors' office employment has grown by 1.4% in the past 12 months.