Health care sector adds jobs through fall but still faces elevated quit rates: Fitch Ratings

December 15, 2022

Though national data suggest staffing shortages across hospitals and other provider settings lessened through November, workers are still leaving their positions for greener pastures at rates well exceeding those in the previous decade.

“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,” Fitch Ratings analysts wrote in a recent sector update citing preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from the past few months.

Hospital and ambulatory healthcare providers added 11,000 (0.21%) and 23,300 (0.28%) jobs to their payrolls from October to November, per the BLS. This continued a steady increase seen since the spring but landed slightly below the year’s average monthly gain.

Hospital sector unemployment dropped from 1.8% to 1.3%. This was above the year’s 1.1% low point, though “Fitch believes the current unemployment rate still indicates a challenging environment for employee recruitment,” analysts wrote.

Data from September to October showed a decline of 86,000 job openings within the healthcare and social assistance sector, Fitch analysts noted. This represented an openings rate shift from 9.1% to 8.7%—both still “very high” compared to the prior decade’s 4.2% average, they wrote.

Quit and hire rates within the healthcare and social assistance sector tell a similar story. The former’s 2.5% rate suggests “marginal” monthly improvement while continuing to tower over the previous decade’s 1.6% average, Fitch analysts wrote.

The sector is still in a hiring flurry compared to previous years, though also looked to be slowing during the fall. Specifically, September’s 3.6% hiring rate gave way to October’s 3.4% rate, both of which were above the prior decade’s 2.8% average.

“Fitch notes that other separations (which include retirements) in 2022 were on pace with 2021 through August, but are showing a significant decline in recent months as the 31,000 in September and October 2022 combined were less than half of the 75,000 in September and October 2021 combined,” analysts wrote.

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