Physicians still in high demand as health care job creation slows

Advertising dips for positions in the health sector, but recruiting is still strong for MDs and DOs.

By — Posted June 14, 2011

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Medicine continued to be one of the few economic sectors still creating jobs in the wake of the recent recession. Not as many were created in May as in prior months, but there is still a significant need for physicians and others who provide patient care.

"We have seen growth -- not any sort of decline -- in demand for health care practitioners," said Mary Scholz Barber, vice president of recruitment partnerships and marketing with Cejka Search in St. Louis.

Unemployment as a whole held steady at 9.1%, with 54,000 jobs added in May, according to data released June 3 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (link). Most lost jobs were in local government.

Health care added 17,400 jobs in May, but that was fewer than the 36,700 created in April and the 29,900 in March. Some of the drop may be due to seasonal swings, although economists said it also is a sign that the economic recovery is still on unsteady footing.

"The overall economy is starting to show choppiness," said Kathy Bostjancic, director for macroeconomic analysis with the Conference Board, an independent business research organization.

The BLS data are not broken down by occupation, but 2,200 jobs were in physicians' offices. That figure was down from the 6,900 created in this setting in April and the 9,000 added in March.

Hospital hiring also dipped. Hospitals added 4,100 jobs in May and 11,500 in April. Another 9,800 were added in March.

Numbers from the Conference Board's monthly Help Wanted Online Data Series, released June 1, indicated some job growth in the economy but some slowing of job creation in health care.

Approximately 148,800 additional job ads appeared in May, bringing the total of advertised vacancies of any kind up to 4.5 million, pre-recession levels.

The number of ads for health care practitioners and technicians declined by 3,400 in May to 565,100 advertisements. That included 35,200 postings for family physicians and general practitioners. The decline primarily was driven by reductions in the number of listings for speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists and physical therapists.

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