Healthcare employment contracted slightly in December, continuing its choppy recovery from historic job losses early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The healthcare industry shed an estimated 3,100 jobs in the final month of 2021, with losses in nursing homes once again pulling down strong gains in the outpatient sector. This time, hospitals added to the losses, per a jobs report the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday. The numbers are preliminary estimates the agency revises once it receives more data.
The overall economy added 199,000 jobs last month—far fewer than economists had projected—and the unemployment rate declined from 4.2% in November to 3.9% in December.
The healthcare industry is taking much longer to recover its jobs than other sectors because nursing homes are struggling to hire and retain workers after being devastated by the coronavirus and hospitals continue to be overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, driving up their staffing costs and crowding out their capacity to treat other conditions.