Skilled nursing hiring rebounds in January

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Skilled nursing facility hiring made a welcome rebound in January after months of declines as the sector sheds therapists in response to a new CMS payment policy.

The skilled nursing sector added 2,400 jobs last month, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest jobs report, released Friday. That’s far stronger than December, when those facilities shed an estimated 6,700 jobs and November, when they shed an estimated 1,700 jobs. The skilled nursing sector has been laying off therapists as it adjusts to a new CMS reimbursement model that pays for therapy on a bundled basis based on patient assessments and acuity rather than based on the volume of services.

Overall, healthcare added 35,500 jobs in January, up 26% from December’s preliminary total of 28,100 jobs, according to the BLS. Healthcare has added 361,000 jobs over the past 12 months.

As usual, the ambulatory sector captured most of the growth, adding 22,500 jobs, or 63% of all new healthcare hires. That was up from 23,100 new hires in December.

January was also a strong month for hospitals, which added 9,700 jobs, up from 8,800 in December. Home healthcare services also recorded a particularly strong month, having made 4,700 new hires, up from 3,900 in December.

Physicians’ offices made 5,600 new hires in January, mostly flat from December’s preliminary total, which was 5,400. Outpatient care centers added 3,100 jobs last month, down from December’s 7,300.

Offices of other healthcare practitioners added 2,200 jobs in January, dentists’ offices added 1,500 jobs and medical and diagnostic laboratories added 2,500.

Community care facilities for the elderly shed 1,700 jobs in January, while residential care facilities added 1,200.

The U.S. unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 3.6% in January, from 3.5% in December. Total nonfarm payroll employment grew by 225,000 jobs last month.

Constructing hiring beat out healthcare in January, having added 44,000 jobs, mostly in specialty trade contracting. Leisure and hospitality also topped healthcare, having added 36,000 jobs. Retail shed 8,300 jobs.

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