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The MedZilla Report for August 2009 -- Health Care Grows Another 28,000 While Hospitals And Insurers Feel Painful Pinch
Date:9/15/2009

With more than 544,000 new health care jobs added since the start of the recession — and 28,000 alone added in August – health care remains one of the few industries showing growth. However, as companies work ever harder to make ends meet, jobs continue to be shed, mostly by hospital systems.

(Vocus) September 15, 2009 -- August saw something of a rebound in job creation in the health care industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 28,000 new jobs were created in August, with 18,000 in ambulatory health care — that is, physicians' offices — and 10,000 in nursing. This is an increase in job creation of about 8,000 from July to August. However, hospital employment dropped by about 7,000. Overall, since the start of the US recession, health care as an industry has added about 544,000 new jobs, one of very few fields to grow as jobs were shed nationwide.

Many of the available jobs being posted were in Massachusetts, according to MedZilla.com, a key source for medical and pharmaceutical job postings and information. That state saw an increase of 1.5 percent in new postings, where no other state showed significant growth or shrinkage. A good percentage of jobs posted overall was in health care education, research and development, and information technology, which indicates that either companies have figured out they cannot get by without those positions or, more likely, the positions are being left open because companies cannot afford to pay employees to do them. Significantly fewer jobs were posted in the medical, surgical, primary care, and business development areas.

With the newly available jobs created in August came sweeping changes in companies' candidate searches. Five states saw increases of five percent or more in candidate searches; California led the way with an increase of almost ten percent. New Jersey, conversely, saw the largest drop in candidate searches, with companies there slowing their activities by more than 11 percent. Significant drops also occurred in Minnesota (just over one percent), as well as Pennsylvania and Illinois (more than four percent each). Job searching by qualified applicants remained relatively flat in August, a non-trend observed by MedZilla for several months. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that, in August, the number of discouraged workers — that is, individuals who are not looking for work because they feel no jobs are available for them — was at 758,000, nearly double the number a year previously. These feelings appear to have spread to the health care industry.

Despite all the new jobs being created, health systems and hospitals continued to announce layoffs, putting a damper on the good news. More and more specialty programs, such as those for individuals with developmental disabilities and substance abuse problems, have begun closing their doors due to budgetary concerns. Also, hospitals are beginning to report laying off support workers and staff from clinical units as they attempt to balance quality care while remaining solvent and able to pay their employees. Administrative units are being hard-hit as well. The biggest health care job cuts in August came from Kaiser Permanente in southern California; according to the Orange County Register, Kaiser plans to lay off 650 people in that area plus another 1,200 in northern California (Contra Costa Times). Insurers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield continue to shed employees; they have been forced to make deep cuts in the past few months, and in August, said they would lose another 650 employees over the final third of the year. Also, interestingly, contact lenses have been at the forefront of job elimination in August, with CooperVision laying off more than 570 and Vistakon, which produces Acuvue-brand contact lenses for Johnson & Johnson, will cut 180 from their quality assurance and global supply chain divisions.

With the economy's present troubles and so many people out of work, the contact lens industry taking a hit makes surprising sense. “Both employed and unemployed people are cutting back,” said Dr. Frank Heasley, founder and president of MedZilla.com. “Contact lenses could be considered a discretionary expense — they need to be replaced more frequently than glasses, and require special solutions to ensure the lenses themselves remain clean and usable. Layoffs like these are an unfortunate by-product of the recession and the frugal-living mentality it's brought about.”

Another by-product of the changing face of the job market is the way large job boards such as Monster and CareerBuilder will be forced to change to maintain their dominance in a world where niche sites like Dice, ComputerJobs, and MedZilla draw more and more jobs away from the big sites. Members of the MedZilla.com community — one of that site's major draws for job seekers and industry experts — suggest that recruiters will play an even-bigger role in securing new jobs and that job boards and the unsolicited resumes garnered from them will be used to fill early career positions — those that require fewer than five years experience. “While niche job boards and recruiters are important for any job search, most new positions are found through personal contacts,” Dr. Heasley said. “Building connections and making contacts decision-makers and former colleagues may seem tedious, but in the end will significantly speed your search.”

About MedZilla.com:
Established in mid-1994, MedZilla is the original web site to serve career and hiring needs for professionals and employers in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medicine, science and healthcare. The MedZilla jobs database contains about 7,500 open positions. The resume database currently contains over 285,000 resumes with 16,800 less than three months old. These resources have been characterized as the largest, most comprehensive databases of their kind on the web in the industries served.

Medzilla® is a Registered Trademark owned by Medzilla Inc. Copyright ©2009, MedZilla, Inc. Permission is granted to reproduce and distribute this text in its entirety, and if electronically, with a link to the URL www.medzilla.com. For permission to quote from or reproduce any portion of this message, please contact MedZilla, Inc. at press(at)medzilla(dot)com.

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