The healthcare workforce was slashed in March and April as many providers suspended elective procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic. May and June brought sharp rebounds when scalpels came back out, but the pace of the recovery has slowed since then.
"We got the rubber band effect early on in this recovery," said Ash Shehata, national sector leader for healthcare and life sciences for KPMG. "So the majority of the recovery already happened."
The total healthcare workforce—15.9 million people—was 3.4% smaller in October than it was in January.
October was a strong month for hospitals, which added an estimated 16,200 jobs. That's after employment in the sector shrunk by 3,900 jobs in September. The overall hospital workforce of almost 5.2 million people is down almost 2% from January.
As usual, ambulatory services dominated October's hiring, comprising 87% of the jobs added. The estimated 50,700 ambulatory jobs added last month came in below the 70,300 added in September. Still, it was enough to nudge the total ambulatory workforce up by 0.7%.
Physicians' offices added an estimated 14,300 jobs in October, a 0.7% bump from their September total, and dentists' offices added 10,800 jobs, up 1.1% from the prior month. Outpatient care centers added 9,700 jobs in October, up 1%, the preliminary data show.
Nursing homes continue to struggle during the pandemic, shedding an estimated 4,900 jobs in October. That's slightly improved from September, when nursing homes lost 1,900 jobs.
The almost 1.5 million people working at nursing homes in October was 8.4% fewer than in January.