The healthcare industry added roughly 31,000 jobs in December, slightly above the 30,000 added in November, with sectors such as hospitals and physicians' office seeing significant fluctuations at the end of 2017.
Healthcare continues to comprise a sizeable portion of overall new job growth, which was 148,000 last month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly update released Friday. The unemployment rate remained at 4.1% in December for the third consecutive month, with 6.6 million people unemployed. In addition to healthcare, much of the growth seen in December continues to be in construction and manufacturing.
Hospitals added 12,400 jobs in December, well above the 2,200 jobs added in November. Job growth in ambulatory services such as physician's offices and dental clinics, however, continues to outpace that of the hospital sector as the demand for outpatient services grows. The ambulatory sector added 14,800 jobs in December. While still enough to hold the top spot for healthcare job growth, that's still far fewer than the 25,300 jobs it added in the previous month.
Physicians' offices gained 700 jobs in December, well below the 6,800 jobs the sector added in November. Dental offices saw the highest gains in the ambulatory sector, adding 7,700 jobs last month. Home healthcare saw no job growth last month, after adding 6,900 jobs in November.
Only one healthcare sector shrunk in November compared to three subsectors in December. Social assistance — specifically, individual and family services and vocational rehabilitation services — lost 220 jobs in December, after having added 11,000 jobs the previous month. Nursing care facilities and other ambulatory healthcare services were also down slightly.