That's down from August's addition of 42,800 jobs, revised from an earlier report of 32,700 jobs added that month. It's also the fourth time this year the sector has added fewer than 10,000 jobs, compared with only once in 2012.
The U.S. economy overall added 148,000 jobs in September, and the unemployment rate dipped to 7.2%, down one percentage point from August.
Hospital hiring has been persistently soft this year, averaging just under 1,000 a month so far—a small fraction of the 6,800 averaged in 2013. For September, the figure was 300. The average number of jobs added by all healthcare employers in 2013 is down, too, averaging 18,533 jobs a month, down 36% from 29,042 in 2012.
Ambulatory care's 8,100 jobs, meanwhile, was the lowest since May 2011. In August, ambulatory providers added 29,700 jobs. Within ambulatory care, 4,700 of the jobs were at outpatient centers, 2,800 were in physician offices and 1,000 were in home healthcare.
The home healthcare figure is a departure from consistent growth in the sector. From January through August, home healthcare had added an average of 6,775 jobs a month. A significant regulatory change issued last month could be a factor in that slowdown.
Home healthcare agencies threatened layoffs and cutting workers' hours after the Obama administration last month lifted the companionship exemption. The policy now grants overtime and federal minimum wage pay to an increased number of home-care workers. Agency trade association officials said the policy would force them to make budget cuts to accommodate the new policy.
The government usually issues the preliminary, seasonally adjusted statistics on the first Friday of each month. October's three-week hiatus of federal workers also will push back the next jobs report to Nov. 8.
Follow Ashok Selvam on Twitter: @MH_aselvam