Healthcare employment was effectively flat in November, putting it well behind industries like business services and transportation that saw hefty job growth.
The healthcare industry added just 2,100 jobs last month, a barely noticeable uptick that followed the addition of almost 43,000 jobs in October, per preliminary estimates the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday. Healthcare employment remained above 16 million for the second month in a row, a threshold the industry previously hadn't crossed since March 2020.
Healthcare's meager job growth relative to other sectors illustrates the COVID-19 pandemic's disproportionate economic effects. Hospitals continue to treat infected patients and pay premiums for travel nurses, in some cases overwhelming their resources and crowding out their capacity to treat patients for conditions other than COVID-19.
Significant increases in hiring by ambulatory care providers mostly offset another tough month for nursing homes, which shed an estimated 8,400 jobs. Employment in residential mental health facilities and community care facilities for the elderly also contracted slightly, albeit far less than nursing homes.
Hospital employment declined by an estimated 3,900 jobs last month as COVID-19 cases crept steadily up. The U.S. recorded roughly 20,500 new COVID-19 cases on Oct. 31, compared with almost 130,000 on Dec. 1, a more than six-fold increase.
Home health care shed an estimated 300 jobs last month after a strong October in which the sector hired more than 19,000 workers. Employment in that sector is still has not rebounded from the beginning of the novel coronavirus outbreak.