The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said that healthcare jobs in the U.S. rose by 22,500 in September, although the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) estimated that more would be needed to meet an expected shortage of doctors.
Hospital jobs accounted for 4,500 of the new workers, which nearly aligned with the sector’s average monthly increase in the last 12 months, according to a BLS report. Ambulatory healthcare services added the most jobs in the sector at 24,700.
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused a decline in nationwide employment by 33,000 jobs, yet the healthcare sector somehow bucked the slowdown in employment in other industries. For instance, the recent storms could have been a factor for a “sharp employment decline” in food service jobs.
However, economists remain optimistic on an overall outlook for the employment market. The recent drop could just be a short-term blip due to the hurricanes, instead of an indicator of a long-term shift in employment opportunities. Still, the healthcare sector needs to hire more people as there would be a shortage of between 40,800 and 104,900 doctors by 2030, according to the AAMC.
For jobs such as a general surgeon or hospitalist, locums staffing through providers like Interim Physicians has been the solution for some hospital’s workforce issues. The AAMC said that an aging population would primarily drive an increase in demand for healthcare services.
For this reason, hospitals should consider a variety of solutions to expand their staff in addition to locum tenens. In some states, the industry has turned to the expansion of new branches of medical schools to address physician shortage.
The slowdown in the U.S. job market could only be a short-term issue, although the situation for the healthcare sector remains quite different. Hospitals need to address a shortage of staff soon to avoid being overwhelmed with an increase in patients.