Consolidation and rural hospital closings could be a factor, said Phillip Miller, vice president of communications at Merritt Hawkins, a Dallas-based physician staffing firm. Another reason could be that hospitals face increased competition from medical groups and community health centers, he said.
A study released last month by Merritt Hawkins suggested a drop-off in hospital hiring of physicians. The study found that between April 2014 and March 2015, 51% of the 3,120 searches for physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants were on behalf of hospitals and hospital-owned practices, a drop-off from 64% of physician searches by hospitals the previous two years. It is the first decrease since 2004, according to the study.
But AMN Healthcare, the parent company of Merritt Hawkins, saw a 39.5% uptick in revenue from nurse, locum tenens and physician permanent placement services in the second quarter of 2015 over 2014.
“Sometimes it's difficult to find a narrative for these counter intuitive numbers that come out,” Miller said.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts hospital employment will grow 17% over the next decade, but will be outpaced by overall healthcare employment, which it projects will grow at a 29.4% rate.
Healthcare overall added 27,900 jobs in July, but that was still down 35.1% from the updated figure of 40,200 in June.
Elsewhere, ambulatory health care services added 8,900 jobs, but that was down 69.6% from 29,300 in June, the high for the year so far.
Home health services hired 3,400 jobs, and nursing and residential care added 3,300 jobs, down 19.5% from June, as that sector girds for a smaller Medicare rate increase for fiscal 2016.
Overall, the U.S. economy added 215,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.3% in July from June.