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Health care adds jobs in March, but monthly gains lower than 6-month average

Article

Overall rate holding steady since early 2022, according to federal figures.

U.S. employment remained stable in March but health care job additions were lower than in recent months.

The figures were part of the latest report from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published April 7. The national employment rate was 3.5%, with 5.8 million people out of work, and with both figures changing little since early 2022, according to BLS.

Health care slows

Health care added 33,900 jobs last month, lower than the average monthly gain of 54,000 over the prior six months, the report said. Home health services led the sector with 15,200 jobs, accounting for much of the gain within ambulatory health care.

Physicians offices added 2,000 jobs and other practitioners added 1,900 workers, but those gains were offset by losses in offices of dentists, outpatient care centers, and medical and diagnostic laboratories.

In health care, hospitals added 10,900 new positions, while nursing and residential care facilities added 8,000 workers and skilled nursing care facilities hired 3,400 workers, according to the BLS figures.

Other sectors

Nonfarm employment grew by 236,000 jobs in March, down from an average monthly gain of about 334,000 new jobs in the last six months.

Leisure and hospitality led job growth with 72,000 new hires, down from the six-month average of 95,000 new jobs. Restaurants and bars led the hiring with 50,000 workers, but overall employment in leisure and hospitality remained down 368,000 workers, or 2.2%, from the pre-pandemic level of February 2022.

Governments added 47,000 workers in March, holding steady to the six-month average, but down from the February 2022 level by 314,000 workers, or 1.4%. Professional and business services continued its upward trend, adding 39,000 employees to top the six-month average of 34,000 workers. In that sector, professional, scientific, and technical services grew by 26,000 jobs.

Social assistance services added 17,000 workers, lower than the 22,000 jobs averaged in the last six months. Transportation and warehousing was steady, adding 10,000 jobs, but warehousing and storage lost 12,000 jobs.

Retailers cut 15,000 positions, with 9,000 jobs lost each among building material, garden equipment, and supply dealers, and in furniture, electronics, and appliance sellers. Department stores added 15,000 jobs to offset some losses.

In other industries, hirings and cuts showed little change month to month for mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; construction; manufacturing; wholesale trade; information; financial activities; and other services.

White House responds

In a statement, President Joe Biden called the report good news, with 12.6 million jobs created since he took office and Black unemployment at a record low 5%. The share of working age Americans in the job market is at a 15-year high, according to the White House.

“But there is more work to do,” the president’s statement said. He said the administration is working “to lower costs for families and to make our economy even stronger, now and for the long term, with investments in infrastructure, innovation, and clean energy.”

The president credited his job and economic agenda for businesses this week announcing manufacturing investments in Georgia, New Mexico, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

“My Investing in America agenda is building an economy that benefits hard-working Americans in every community across the country, not just those at the top,” Biden said. He blamed “extreme MAGA Republicans in Congress” for debt limit brinkmanship that could “wreak havoc” on the economy by sending jobs overseas.

“And it’s all to pay for even more giveaways to the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations,” the president’s statement said. “Make no mistake, I will stop those efforts to put our economy at risk and take us back to the failed policies of the past.”

The Republican National Committee (RNC) countered that wage growth is slowing, inflation shows no signs of changing, and gas prices are $1 more a gallon than when Biden took office.

“Joe Biden’s agenda continues to leave families behind. Americans are taking a pay cut as the cost of gas and groceries continues to skyrocket, yet Biden wants taxpayers to foot the bill for his $6.9 trillion tax-and-spending spree that will send inflation soaring even higher,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement.

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Jennifer N. Lee, MD, FAAFP
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health