6 hospitals laying off workers

China Employee Layoff Laws

The financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic forced hundreds of hospitals across the nation to furlough, lay off or reduce pay for workers, and others have had to scale back services or close.

Lower patient volume, canceled elective procedures and higher expenses tied to the pandemic have created a cash crunch for hospitals, and hospitals are taking a number of steps to offset financial damage. Executives, clinicians and other staff are taking pay cuts, capital projects are being put on hold, and some employees are losing their jobs. More than 260 hospitals and health systems furloughed workers in the last year, and dozens of others have implemented layoffs.

Below are six hospitals and health systems that are laying off employees in the next 2 months. Some of the layoffs were attributed to financial strain caused by the pandemic. 

1. Sacramento, Calif.-based Sutter Health is laying off hundreds of employees, most of whom work in information technology. In a filing with the state, Sutter said it plans to lay off 277 employees on April 2. The 277 jobs being eliminated include 92 analysts, 43 engineers and 28 project managers, according to the Sacramento Business Journal, citing the system’s filing with California’s Employment Development Department. 

2. Plattsburgh, N.Y.-based Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital plans to cut 60 jobs. The hospital, which is facing a $6.5 million deficit in fiscal year 2021, said the cuts include 10 people who were laid off or had permanent hour reductions, 12 people who are planning retirement, and the rest are open positions that will not be filled. 

3. Hialeah (Fla.) Hospital is closing its maternity ward and laying off 62 employees April 5, according to a notice filed with the state. Most of those affected by the layoffs are registered nurses.

4. The outgoing owners of Providence Behavioral Health Hospital in Holyoke, Mass., are laying off the hospital’s 151 employees, effective April 20, according to MassLive. Trinity Health of New England, part of Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health,  is selling the hospital to Health Partners New England, which plans to take over the hospital April 20. 

5. Olympia Medical Center in Los Angeles is slated to close March 31. The closure will result in the layoffs of about 450 employees.

6. Minneapolis-based Children’s Minnesota is laying off 150 employees, or about 3 percent of its workforce. Children’s Minnesota cited several reasons for the layoffs, including the financial hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. Some layoffs occured in December and the rest will occur at the end of March. 

Economy shrank 3.5 percent in 2020

https://thehill.com/policy/finance/536247-economy-shrank-35-percent-in-2020

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The U.S. economy shrank 3.5 percent in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses, schools and events, marking the first annual contraction since the Great Recession, according to data released by the Commerce Department on Thursday.

U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) suffered its largest annual decline since 1946 due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Commerce Department release. The outbreak of COVID-19 caused the steepest economic collapse since the Great Depression, wiping out more than 20 million jobs and years of economic growth within two months.

U.S. GDP increased by an annualized rate of 4 percent in the final three months of 2020, according to the data released Thursday, following an annualized gain of 33.4 percent in the third quarter and a 31.4 percent annualized decline in the second quarter. But the economic rebound staged in the second half of 2020 has been dampened by the continued rapid spread of COVID-19 throughout the country.

The U.S. economy came into 2020 remarkably strong. Unemployment reached a 50-year low of 3.5 percent in the previous year, inflation remained low and the U.S. had just set a record for the longest economic expansion in its modern history. While the U.S. was likely to face some headwinds from slowing economies overseas, the stunning emergence of the coronavirus pandemic shattered the strong labor market and forced thousands of businesses to shutter.

Consumer spending — which makes up nearly two-thirds of the U.S. economy — fell 2.6 percent in 2020, driven mainly by a 3.4 percent decline in spending on services. Spending on goods rose 0.8 percent, however, as purchases shifted from gatherings to products that could be used during lockdowns.

Economists expect the U.S. economy to bounce back quickly in the second half of 2021, assuming enough Americans are vaccinated to prevent large coronavirus outbreaks. Both economists and health experts insist that a full return to normal is not possible until the pandemic is defeated. 

Roughly 9 million jobs lost during the onset of the pandemic have yet to be recovered, and those without work have struggled to get by with swaths of the economy still largely shut down by the virus. The federal government approved more than $4 trillion to fund pandemic response and economic rescue in 2020, though Democratic lawmakers and many economists say more is still needed.

President Biden and congressional Democrats are pushing to pass another $1.9 trillion COVID-19 bill meant to ramp up vaccine distribution and offer more economic relief to those in the greatest need.

Republican lawmakers have not ruled out passing another relief bill, but most object to the size and scope of Biden’s proposal after approving a $900 billion measure in December.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell have both warned lawmakers that the risks of holding back on necessary fiscal relief are far greater than adding more to the national debt or risking an increase in inflation.

“I’m much more worried about falling short of a complete recovery and losing peoples’ careers and lives and the damage that will do to productive capacity than about the possibility of higher inflation,” Powell said Wednesday.

New unemployment claims jump to nearly 1 million, the highest level since August

Unemployment rate remains at 6.7%, employers cut 140,000 jobs last month -  ABC News

The number of new unemployment claims filed last week jumped by 181,000 the week before to 965,000, the largest increase since the beginning of the pandemic.

It was the largest number of new unemployment claims since August.

An additional 284,000 claims were filed for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the insurance for gig and self-employed workers.

The weekly report is President Trump’s last before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20. Biden will inherit a labor market badly weakened by the coronavirus pandemic and an economic recovery that appears to have stalled: 140,000 people lost their jobs in December, the first decline in months, with the U.S. still down millions of jobs since February.

The dire numbers will serve as a backdrop for Biden as he formally unveils an ambitious stimulus package proposal on Thursday, which could top $1 trillion, and is expected include an expansion of the child tax credit, a $2,000 stimulus payment, and other assistance for the economy.

Democrats were already using the weak labor to argue about the necessity of more aid.

Economists say that the economy’s struggles could be explained, in part, by the delay Congress allowed between the summer, when many fiscal aid programs expired and December, when lawmakers finally agreed on a new package after months of stalemate.

The number of new jobless claims has come down since the earliest days of the pandemic, but remains at a extremely high level week in and week out.

The total number of continuing people in any of the unemployment programs at the end of the year was 18.4 million, although officials have cautioned that the number is inflated by accounting issues and duplicate claims.

The increase in claims is not entirely unexpected. As the aid package passed by Congress in December kicks in, including a $300 a week unemployment supplement, some economists expected that to result in more workers filing claims.

Economy loses 140K jobs in December, first losses since April

https://thehill.com/policy/finance/533242-december-jobs-report

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The economy lost 140,000 jobs in December, the first reported losses since April, as the unemployment rate remained steady at 6.7 percent.

Economists expected a small jobs gain of nearly 50,000. The drop is the latest sign of a weakening economy amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. All in all, the economy remains about 10 million jobs below its pre-pandemic levels.

“There’s not much comfort to be taken from the stable unemployment rate, given that millions of Americans have left the labor force with nearly 11 million listed as officially out of work,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com.

“Between the human and economic tolls taken by the pandemic, these are some of the darkest hours of this soon-to-be yearlong tragedy.”

The biggest losses were concentrated in leisure and hospitality, a sector particularly vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic, which lost an astonishing 498,000 jobs.

State and local government payrolls shed 51,000 jobs. Congress deferred passing state and local aid in its latest COVID-19 relief bill.

But the overall loss would have been worse had it not been for gains in professional and business services, which added 161,000 jobs; retail trade, which added 120,500 jobs; and construction, which added 51,000.

Some demographic groups have been hit harder by the economic downturn.

The unemployment rate for Hispanics rose to 9.3 percent in December, while Black unemployment remained elevated at 9.9 percent. The rate for whites was 6 percent, and for Asians it was 5.9 percent.

Over a third of jobless people have been unemployed for over 27 weeks.

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Unemployment claims rose sharply last week as economic crisis grinds on

U.S. Unemployment Claims Rise Amid Coronavirus Surge - WSJ

Applications for jobless benefits resumed their upward march last week as the worsening pandemic continued to take a toll on the economy.

More than 947,000 workers filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was up nearly 229,000 from the week before, reversing a one-week dip that many economists attributed to the Thanksgiving holiday. Applications have now risen three times in the last four weeks, and are up nearly a quarter-million since the first week of November.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the week’s figure was 853,000, an increase of 137,000.

Nearly 428,000 applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program that covers freelancers, self-employed workers and others who don’t qualify for regular state benefits.

Unemployment filings have fallen greatly since last spring, when as many as six million people a week applied for state benefits. But progress had stalled even before the recent increases, and with Covid-19 cases soaring and states reimposing restrictions on consumers and businesses, economists fear that layoffs could surge again.

“It’s very clear the third wave of the pandemic is causing businesses to have to lay people off and consumers to cut back spending,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist for the career site Glassdoor. “It seems like we’re in for a rough winter economically.”

Jobless claims rose in nearly every state last week. In California, where the state has imposed strict new limits on many businesses, applications jumped by 47,000, more than reversing the state’s Thanksgiving-week decline.

The monthly jobs report released on Friday showed that hiring slowed sharply in early November and that some of the sectors most exposed to the pandemic, like restaurants and retailers, cut jobs for the first time since the spring. More up-to-date data from private sources suggests that the slowdown has continued or deepened since the November survey was conducted.

Every month, we’re just seeing the pace of the recovery get slower and slower,” said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist with the job site Indeed. Now, she said, the question is, “Are we actually going to see it slide backward?”

Many economists say the recovery will continue to slow if the government does not provide more aid to households and businesses. After months of gridlock in Washington, prospects for a new round of federal help have grown in recent days, with congressional leaders from both parties signaling their openness to a compromise and the White House proposing its own $916 billion spending plan on Tuesday. But the two sides remain far apart on key issues.

The stakes are particularly high for jobless workers depending on federal programs that have expanded and extended unemployment benefits during the pandemic. Those programs expire later this month, potentially leaving millions of families with no income during what epidemiologists warn could be some of the pandemic’s worst months.

Hospital workforce tracker: layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts

https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/hospital-workforce-tracker-layoffs-furloughs-and-pay-cuts/576890/

Hospital workforce tracker: layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts | News Break

Many hospitals are temporarily or permanently reducing the size of their workforce as they grapple with depleted revenues and the thorny question of when they can return to normal operating capacity. Here’s a tracker to follow the latest updates.

Hospitals across the country, financially battered as they face the dual challenges of sick COVID-19 patients and a precipitous decline in patient volume, are struggling to balance quickly shifting staffing needs. While some face and others brace for intense demand, many have announced furloughs of specialists and others that work in elective surgeries that have been drastically scaled back.

Thousands of healthcare workers at hospitals big and small have been asked not to return to work, and it’s still unclear how soon non-essential services will return. While some governors announce plans to reopen businesses, others have extended stay-at-home orders.

Most recent data from the U.S Bureau of Labor doesn’t cover the second half of March or early April, but during the first half of March, the healthcare industry shed 43,000 jobs — reversing a decade of growth in the sector. According to BLS data, the industry added 49,000 jobs in March 2019.

“Even our emergency room has seen a significant drop in patients coming in,” Sue Philips, an ICU nurse at Palomar Pomerado Health in Northern San Diego, told Healthcare Dive.

Phillips is a spokesperson with National Nurses United, the country’s largest nurses union. Palomar Health, which runs three medical centers in northern San Diego County, recently instituted 21-day temporary layoffs of 221 employees.

On April 28, Palomar announced that most of those layoffs were becoming permanent. The system laid off 5% of its workforce, eliminating 317 positions. Fifty of those employees were clinical RNs, mostly in part-time positions, and the rest spread across the organization ranging from clerical staff to technicians.

Due to a 50% decrease in patient volumes, Palomar lost $10 million in revenue in March alone, according to a statement. In April the system said it stands to lose $20 million or more.

“I’m an ICU nurse, so my job is pretty much protected,” Phillips said. “But you didn’t think you were expendable until you became expendable, and that’s a hard pill for nurses and caregivers to swallow.”

Congress has attempted to financially support struggling hospitals through ongoing coronavirus relief legislation, approving some $175 billion thus far. But without knowing what will come next, hospitals are attempting to remain nimble while reining in one of their most costly expenses — paying employees.

The following information is based on publicly reported data, along with interviews with hospital representatives and union members.

It’s not an exhaustive list, but features nonprofit and for-profit hospital systems that reported revenue above $10 billion in 2019. It also takes a look at smaller, more regionally based systems that have announced similar cutbacks.

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As healthcare job growth slows, some look to restructure long-term operations

Healthcare job losses reached staggering levels amid stay-at-home orders and the widespread cancellation of elective procedures when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit this spring. Dentists and ambulatory services were particularly hard hit.

While the industry has since recovered many of the 1.3 million jobs lost this April, it’s still 527,000 short from February levels, and monthly gains have slowed since, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At the same time, some of the major hospitals that issued furloughs or layoffs early in the pandemic are now further reducing the size of their workforce.

The stagnation will likely continue, as companies “don’t hire as many people, then lay some people off to also try and save money, because worse times may be ahead,” said Erica Groshen, former BLS commissioner and senior labor economics adviser at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

One example is Dallas-based Baylor Scott & White, which laid off 3% of its workforce, or 1,200 employees in May. It’s now laying off a third of its corporate finance staff, though some impacted employees are being offered positions with a third-party vendor, the system said in a Monday statement.

Providence Health & Services laid off 183 employees in mostly administrative roles as a result of transitioning work to a third-party vendor, while five employees were laid off “as a result of business need,” according to a WARN notice letter the system sent to an Oregon state agency Nov. 16. It previously issued an unknown number of furloughs across its 51-hospital system.

And Utah-based Intermountain Health said it would cut 250 business-related jobs by offering 750 employees voluntary separation packages on Oct. 13.

The moves come even while hospitals are stretched to the brink from the highest surge of coronavirus cases the country has yet seen. In the past few weeks, many have halted elective procedures and paid steep rates for temporary nursing staff, further straining finances.

And other healthcare establishments, such as some doctor’s offices and medical labs, are still struggling to get reluctant patients back in.

A recent Labor Department survey covering the onset of the pandemic through September found among all healthcare businesses, 64% experienced a decrease in demand while only 13% experienced an increase in demand.

In November, healthcare businesses overall added 46,000 jobs in — fewer than the 58,000 jobs added in October; 53,000 in September; and 75,000 in August, according to BLS data.

Hospitals added about 4,000 jobs in November and are about 100,000 jobs short from February.

15 hospitals laying off workers

Virus prompts more layoffs at universities in Oregon

The financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have forced hundreds of hospitals across the nation to furlough, lay off or reduce pay for workers, and others have had to scale back services or close. 

Lower patient volumes, canceled elective procedures and higher expenses tied to the pandemic have created a cash crunch for hospitals. U.S. hospitals are estimated to lose more than $323 billion this year, according to a report from the American Hospital Association. 

Hospitals are taking a number of steps to offset financial damage. Executives, clinicians and other staff are taking pay cuts, capital projects are being put on hold, and some employees are losing their jobs. More than 260 hospitals and health systems furloughed workers this year and dozens of others have implemented layoffs. 

Below are 15 hospitals and health systems that announced layoffs since Sept. 1, many of which were attributed to financial strain caused by the pandemic. 

1. Minneapolis-based Children’s Minnesota is laying off 150 employees, or about 3 percent of its workforce. Children’s Minnesota cited several reasons for the layoffs, including the financial hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. Affected employees will end their employment either Dec. 31 or March 31.

2. Dallas-based Baylor Scott & White Health announced in early December that it will lay off 102 employees in finance and accounting roles. The duties of the affected workers will be outsourced to a third-party vendor in India.

3. Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport, N.Y., announced in early November that it plans to end intensive care unit services and move surgical services from the hospital to a surgery center. The changes will result in the loss of 80 jobs. 

4. Detroit Medical Center confirmed in November that it laid off employees but declined to disclose the number of employees affected. Clinical staff, administrative assistants and employees at the management level were affected by the layoffs, sources told Crain’s Detroit Business

5. Mercy Iowa City (Iowa) laid off 29 employees in November to address financial strain tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

6. NorthBay Healthcare, a nonprofit health system based in Fairfield, Calif., announced Nov. 2 that it is laying off 31 of its 2,863 employees as part of its pandemic recovery plan.

7. Brattleboro Retreat, a psychiatric and addiction treatment hospital in Vermont, notified 85 employees in late October that they would be laid off within 60 days. 

8. Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente notified the state of Hawaii in November that it planned to lay off 45 employees within 60 days. “The COVID-19 public health crisis has placed unprecedented demands on the entire health care system, including Kaiser Permanente,” a Kaiser spokesperson said in an email to Pacific Business News. “Even before the pandemic, we had been transparent in sharing that Kaiser Permanente Hawaii faced ongoing financial challenges and that we were on a path to address our internal structure in a way that ensured we would be able to continue to deliver high-quality, affordable care and coverage to our members in Hawaii for years to come.” The health system said most of the positions eliminated were administrative or in non-patient facing areas.

9. Citing a need to offset financial losses, Minneapolis-based M Health Fairview said in October  it plans to downsize its hospital and clinic operations. As a result of the changes, 900 employees, about 3 percent of its 34,000-person workforce, will be laid off.

10. Lake Charles (La.) Memorial Health System laid off 205 workers, or about 8 percent of its workforce, in October as a result of damage sustained from Hurricane Laura. The health system laid off employees at Moss Memorial Health Clinic and the Archer Institute, two facilities in Lake Charles that sustained damage from the hurricane.

11. Burlington, Mass.-based Wellforce laid off 232 employees in September as a result of operating losses linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. The health system, comprising Tufts Medical Center, Lowell General Hospital and MelroseWakefield Healthcare, experienced a drastic drop in patient volume earlier this year due to the suspension of outpatient visits and elective surgeries. 

12. Baptist Health Floyd in New Albany, Ind., part of Louisville, Ky.-based Baptist Health, eliminated 36 positions in late September. The hospital said the cuts, which primarily affected administrative and nonclinical roles, are due to restructuring that is “necessary to meet financial challenges compounded by COVID-19.”

13. Cincinnati-based UC Health laid off about 100 employees in September. The job cuts affected both clinical and non-clinical staff. A spokesperson for the health system said no physicians were laid off. 

14. Springfield, Ill.-based Memorial Health System laid off 143 employees in September, or about 1.5 percent of the five-hospital system’s workforce. The health system cited financial pressures tied to the pandemic as the reason for the layoffs. 

15. Watertown, N.Y.-based Samaritan Health announced Sept. 8 that it laid off 51 employees and will make other cost-cutting moves to offset financial stress tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.