Hospitals led all sectors on the healthcare hiring front in December, but the industry's employment recovery continues to be a tough slog.
Hospitals added an estimated 31,500 jobs in December, which is better than the sector has done in months and represents an increase of 0.6% from the previous month, preliminary numbers released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show. The job growth is up significantly from just 7,600 added in November.
Healthcare overall added 38,800 jobs in December, an increase of 25% from the 31,000 jobs added in November—a number the government revised down significantly from its preliminary estimate. The 16 million Americans working in the healthcare industry last month was up 0.2% from the November total.
Total nonfarm employment in the country actually shrunk by 140,000 jobs in December, although the unemployment rate held steady at 6.7%. The BLS attributed the decline to spikes in COVID-19 cases and efforts to control the pandemic.
The pace of hiring lagged in healthcare's ambulatory sector. The estimated 20,700 ambulatory jobs added last month represented an increase of 0.3%, but was down from 34,400 new hires in November, a number that has been revised down from its earlier estimate.