Healthcare continued to add jobs last month, but the industry's employment growth occurred largely outside of hospitals
, which until recently were a steady source of payroll gains.
Healthcare added 18,700 jobs in March, an increase of 0.1%, to total 14.7 million though hiring by hospitals was stagnant, according to preliminary seasonally adjusted figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
. Overall U.S. employment increased by 288,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.3%.
Last month's healthcare job growth was slightly slower than the 0.2% the same month last year. For the 12 months that ended in March, healthcare added 198,200 jobs, an increase of 1.4% compared with growth of 1.7% the prior year.
Hospital hiring, meanwhile, was essentially unchanged with 1,700 new jobs in March, continuing a trend in uneven growth and some job losses in recent months. Hospitals hired 6,600 workers in the same month last year, their strongest month for hiring since February 2012. For the year that ended in March, hospitals shed 4,100 jobs, a decline of 0.1% compared with growth of 26,900 jobs the prior year, or growth of 0.6%.
Hospital employment totaled 4.8 million in March.
Ambulatory-care providers added 12,600 jobs last month, an increase of 0.2%, for total employment of 6.6 million. That's down from employment gains of 21,000 in March 2013. For the year that ended in March, ambulatory care added 174,200 jobs, an increase of 2.7%, compared with 179,600 jobs the prior year, for gains of 2.9%. Physician
office hiring was up 0.2% with 5,600 new jobs in March to total 2.5 million jobs. That's compared with growth of 7,700 jobs in the same month the prior year. For the year that ended in March, physician office employment increased by 55,300, or 2.3%, compared with 50,500 new jobs the prior year, likewise a 2.3% gain.Follow Melanie Evans on Twitter: @MHmevans