Health care employment in the US reported its weakest month since 2010, with about 6,000 jobs shed in December 2013. The largest drops were in ambulatory health care, hospital, and home health care services, while residential services and outpatient centers saw slight increases of 1,000 and 4,000 jobs, respectively.
The latest report (.pdf) from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reflects what Bloomberg Businessweek says could be a "blip" in an industry that is thought of as a consistent job producer, albeit one that has slowed its growth in 2013. The health care employment numbers were part of a lackluster jobs report that pegged unemployment at 6.7% nationally.
Analysts are unsure about the source for the December drop in health care jobs. While most agree that the sluggishness is likely related to an overall decline in health care spending, there are differing theories about whether the drop in spending is due to new approaches to care, a lingering "hangover" from the economic recession, or a combination of both.
Most of APTA's projections continue to show physical therapy as a growing profession, with projected unmet demand ranging from 13,638 to 27,820 over the next 5 years depending on the attrition rate of physical therapists (PTs) over time. The total number of licensed PTs is projected to rise from about 176,000 to between 203,000 and 232,000 by 2020. The supply and demand data are part of a suite of resources on the physical therapy workforce available on APTA's website.
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