Healthcare payrolls increase, job openings decline, Fitch says

There may be just a sliver of light at the end of a very long tunnel for labor numbers in the U.S. nonprofit healthcare system, according to a Dec. 13 Fitch Ratings report identifying "incremental signs of improvement" in job figures.

While hospital and ambulatory healthcare services payrolls increased by 11,000 (0.21 percent) and 23,300 (0.28 percent), respectively, from October to November, job openings for the healthcare and social assistance sector declined by 86,000 to 8.7 percent in October 2022 from 9.1 percent in September, according to preliminary data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Fitch noted.

But there are plenty of warning signs that the situation is very far from over, Fitch said, with the threat of increased capacity pressures due to the "tridemic" of illness sweeping the country and a subsequent potential need for contract labor.

And labor shortages remain high in the healthcare industry, forcing healthcare systems to offer higher wages and better working conditions to recruit and retain, the report said.

"The high quits rate indicates that healthcare and social assistance workers have a high willingness and ability to leave their current jobs and highlights the pressure on health systems to provide increased wages and improved working conditions to employees," said Richard Park, director at Fitch Ratings.

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