Total employment in three outpatient healthcare sectors is higher now than it was before the pandemic: dental offices, medical and diagnostic labs, and outpatient care centers. Even though July job growth was weak or negative in all three categories, their total employment was higher than in January 2020, shortly before the pandemic hit the U.S. Dental offices added 27,000 jobs, labs added 4,300 and outpatient care centers added 8,500.
Healthcare’s ambulatory sector employs the most people and typically comprises at least three-quarters of jobs in the industry. Ambulatory care providers added an estimated 32,000 jobs last month, more than triple its June growth. Total employment in the ambulatory sector stands at 7.8 million jobs, about 13,000 short of its January 2020 total.
Most of the outpatient gains were in a category called “offices of other healthcare practitioners,” which jumped by an estimated 17,100 jobs and is now nearing its pre-pandemic level. Physicians’ offices are also very close to pre-pandemic employment after adding 10,100 jobs last month.
Hospitals saw a strong hiring swing, adding an estimated 18,300 jobs, a big reversal from June, when they shed more than 7,000. Hospitals across the country, especially in states with low vaccination rates, have struggled to manage the latest COVID-19 surge after a comparatively calm spring.
Nursing homes employment fell by 1,500 jobs in July, a smaller decline than in other months during the pandemic. Nursing home employment has shrunk every month since the outbreak began, and up to 94% of nursing homes had staff shortages in the past month, according to a June survey.
Residential mental health facilities and community care facilities for the elderly both saw noteworthy employment drops in July.
Across all industries, total employment rose by 943,000 and the unemployment rate fell to 5.4%. Leisure and hospitality saw far and away the biggest gain, adding a whopping 380,000 jobs. Local government education added 221,000 jobs.