ACA uncertainty fuels slowdown in healthcare hiring
Monday, April 17, 2017
After the astronomical rise in U.S. job growth in February, the same can't be said for the following month, March.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 235,000 jobs in February, and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.7 percent in the first full month of President Donald Trump's term, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported at the time. By the same measurement, the U.S. economy only added 98,000 jobs in March, deeply disappointing analysts who predicted as many 180,000 new hirings.
Of those, healthcare added 38,000 jobs in February. In March, the sector only saw a rise of about 14,000 jobs. Like other industries, this is certainly a significant drop, but total employment in the healthcare industry is at 15.65 million.
Overall, the unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points to 4.5 percent in March. Breaking down the job sectors, hospitals produced the most jobs with 8,700 new positions in March, while ambulatory care added 6,800 jobs.
In the first three months of 2017, the BLS says, "Healthcare added an average of 20,000 jobs per month, compared with an average monthly gain of 32,000 in 2016." In 2016, healthcare jobs led growth overall.
Some news publications suggested that the proposed fall of the Affordable Care Act would cut into job numbers, and that may be partly true. However, Congress' recent stumbles in repealing and replacing Obamacare — efforts that obviously did not pass through the House in March despite Trump's support and campaign for the bill — were a setback for the effort.
Some have suggested leaving the ACA in place, and "let it die on its own," as Trump himself said after the failure of the Republican bill. But there are rumblings once again in Congress that say healthcare is no settled issue and that work continues on an Obamacare replacement.
Given this political wrangling in Congress and Trump's uncovered cards about the future of healthcare and the ACA, uncertainty for healthcare in regard to jobs and hiring will likely continue in the near term.
Modern Health says that analysts predicted shortly after the election of Trump that hiring in the healthcare sector would drop until hospitals and other providers had a better sense of how the administration would regulate the industry. Clearly that seems to have happened.
Despite its overwhelming problems — including the loss of several insurers from state marketplaces — the ACA seemed to have driven health jobs in 2016 as more newly insured people sought out care. As the future of the ACA remains in doubt, so does the future of the healthcare job market.
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