Physician offices record strong job growth in 2011

Health care continues to be a driver of the nascent economic recovery.

By — Posted Jan. 12, 2012

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Job creation in the health care setting ended 2011 on a high note with an increased number of new positions, including many in physician offices.

Physician offices added 67,600 jobs in 2011, more than double the 25,300 created in 2010, according to the monthly employment situation summary issued Jan. 6 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number for 2011 was the second-highest in this setting for the past decade. The count for 2010 was the lowest number for the past decade.

Hospital employment also showed signs of economic recovery. Hospitals added 89,100 jobs in 2011, compared with 37,300 in 2010. Hospitals added 2,600 jobs in 2009, the official end of the 2007-09 recession. Physician offices added 43,000 jobs in 2009.

A shift of many services from the inpatient to outpatient settings is usually given as the reason why job growth in physician offices outpaces that of hospitals.

The economy as a whole added 1.6 million jobs in 2011 after adding 1.1 million positions in 2010. The unemployment rate decreased from 9.4% in December 2010 to 8.5% in December 2011 (link).

BLS data are not broken down by individual occupation. Health care professionals, including physicians, continue to be in demand, although some data indicate a slight softening for some clinical positions.

The number of ads for any position grew by 93,800 to nearly 4 million, according to the monthly Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine Data Series released Jan. 4. The number of listings for health care practitioners and technicians, a category that includes physicians, went down slightly, by 7,600, to 522,200, primarily because of decreases in listings for registered nurses.

Demand for health care professionals held steady, and there were still more positions than trained people to fill them. There were 3.5 unemployed people for each advertised vacancy of any kind, but there were 2.9 jobs for each available health care professional (link).

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How many jobs were added to medical payrolls?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics counts the number of jobs in the economy as a whole and breaks them down by industry sector. The number of jobs added by the health care industry sector per year during the past decade:

Year New jobs in physician offices New jobs in hospitals
2001 69,300 118,700
2002 44,900 101,300
2003 39,700 60,400
2004 44,700 35,200
2005 50,100 77,200
2006 55,400 78,700
2007 54,300 105,000
2008 33,000 105,200
2009 43,000 2,600
2010 25,300 37,300
2011 67,600 89,100

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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