Healthcare added 19,400 jobs last month, as the overall economy increased hiring by 192,000 and unemployment held steady at 6.7%.
The new preliminary numbers
from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
showed a continued trend of anemic job growth among hospitals
, which face pressure from public and private insurers to prevent avoidable admissions, while healthcare consumers continue to struggle in a weak economy. Hospitals reported weak to declining admissions, ratings analysts said.
Hospital employment grew by 4,000 jobs, or 0.1%, last month. Revised figures for February showed employment growth of 3,300 rather than the 1,200 loss previously reported
. Still, hospital job growth in the preliminary March and February figures follow two months of job losses that totaled 8,700 jobs. And hospitals added just 3,700 jobs for the year ending in March, compared with 18,300 jobs in the previous 12-month period and 72,200 the year before.
The overall healthcare sector's monthly job growth amounted to an increase of 0.1%, preliminary figures showed. That's compared with an increase of 11,100 in March 2013, which was also a 0.1% increase.
Total healthcare employment at the end of last month was 14.6 million.
Ambulatory healthcare added 19,500 jobs in March, an increase of 0.3%, compared with 7,500 jobs added the same month the prior year, which amounted to an increase of 0.1%. Ambulatory care
added 181,600 jobs during the year that ended in March, which amounted to an increase of 2.8%. That's compared with 173,100 jobs the prior year, when ambulatory hiring also increased 2.8%. Total ambulatory employment was 6.6 million in March. Physician offices
added 4,400 jobs last month, an increase of 0.2%, after a drop of 400 jobs during the same month the prior year, which amounted to flat growth.
During the year that ended in March, physician offices added 56,000 jobs for a gain of 2.3%. The prior year, physician-office hiring added 47,000 new positions, an increase of 2%. Physician office hiring in March totaled 2.5 million.
The figures for March and February are preliminary and subject to revision.Follow Melanie Evans on Twitter: @MHmevans