Medical practice hiring in April logs slowest monthly growth rate of 2012

Meanwhile, hospitals added 4,100 jobs, down from 8,700 in March.

By — Posted May 10, 2012

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Hiring at physician offices bucked a trend in April toward an overall decline in job growth, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Physician practices added 5,500 jobs in April, up from a revised total of 5,100 new jobs in March, the BLS said in a May 4 release. The division of the U.S. Labor Dept. said 115,000 jobs were created in April, the slowest growth of 2012, below March’s revised total of 154,000. The overall unemployment rate fell from 8.2% in March to 8.1% in April. Health care represented 19,000 new jobs, down from a revised total of 25,300 in March. The BLS commonly revises numbers from the previous month or two when it puts out the latest job growth totals (link).

Hospitals added 4,100 jobs in April, down from revised growth totals of 8,700 in March and 12,700 in February, the BLS said. Physician practices had added 7,800 jobs in February.

The BLS does not break down employment statistics by occupation. However, indications are that physicians are in demand, no matter what the overall employment trend.

“We’re seeing really strong trends as far as demand goes for just about any medical specialty, particularly for primary care physicians,” said Jeff Freeman, president of the permanent placement division of CompHealth, a staffing firm based in Salt Lake City. “It’s a very healthy market out there.”

The number of listings for health care practitioners and technicians, a category that includes physicians, decreased by 17,700 to 560,400 in April, according to a monthly report released April 30 by the Conference Board. Researchers say the lower figure was driven primarily by declines in listings for physical and occupational therapists and speech pathologists. However, the board said it does not indicate an actual decrease in demand, because there are still not enough people to fill these positions. The number of people available for each health care practitioner or technician job held at 0.4. A figure below 1 means there are more jobs than people to fill them.

“It’s pretty steady,” said June Shelp, vice president of the Conference Board. “The supply is still well below the need.”

The number of listings for health care support personnel grew by 100 to 137,600, and there were two people searching for each position advertised.

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