More Americans are quitting — and job openings hit record high

Across industries, 4.54 million Americans quit or changed jobs in March, the highest level since December 2000, according to seasonally adjusted data released May 3 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The count is up from 4.38 million in February. In the healthcare and social assistance sector, 542,000 Americans left their jobs in March, compared to 561,000 the previous month, according to the bureau.

The number of job openings in the U.S. also hit a record high of 11.55 million in March, up from 11.34 million in February, according to the bureau. Job openings in the healthcare and social assistance sector remained similar in February and March, at around 2 million.

During the pandemic, hospital CEOs are among those who have joined the list of workers quitting. Additionally, older, tenured employees in America are part of the trend.

Although there continues to be churn in the labor market, Fitch Ratings projects the U.S. labor market will recover jobs lost during the pandemic by the end of August.

7 hospitals laying off workers

Several hospitals are trimming their workforces due to financial and operational challenges, and some are offering affected workers new positions.

1. Watsonville (Calif.) Community Hospital is preparing to lay off 658 workers, according to a notice filed with the state and shared with Becker’s Hospital Review. The hospital, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December, expects the layoffs to occur between May 16 and May 23. 

2. Toledo, Ohio-based ProMedica’s health plan, Paramount, is laying off about 200 employees in July after losing a Medicaid contract. Anthem acquired Paramount’s Medicaid contract, and ProMedica and Anthem have been working to identify open roles for employees affected by the layoffs.

3. NYC Test & Trace Corps, the city’s initiative for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, is ending universal contact tracing by the end of April. NYC Health + Hospitals, which leads the program in collaboration with the city’s department of health and other agencies, is planning to lay off 874 workers when the program scales back, according to a notice filed with state regulators March 4. The health system said affected temporary employees will be laid off at the end of April. Managerial employees affected by the layoffs will have their employment terminated between May 13 and May 27, according to the notice. 

4. MarinHealth Medical Center is laying off 104 revenue cycle and supply chain employees in April after entering into a contract with Optum to provide those services, according to a notice filed with state regulators in February. Greenbrae, Calif.-based MarinHealth said that as a result of the contract with Optum, all non-contractual revenue cycle and supply chain employees will be terminated from employment with the hospital on April 9. Optum is offering jobs to most workers affected by the layoffs. Employees who accept an offer will begin employment with Optum on the first work day following separation from MarinHealth, a spokesperson for the hospital told Becker’s Hospital Review

5. St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., is laying off 49 employees, including 21 registered nurses, when it stops providing mental health services in April, according to a notice filed with state regulators.

6. West Reading, Pa.-based Tower Health closed Brandywine Hospital in Coatesville, Pa., on Jan. 31. As a result of the closure, 534 employees were laid off Feb. 7, according to a notice filed with state regulators. 

7. Community Hospital Long Beach (Calif.) shut down and surrendered its acute care license to the state in December, according to the Long Beach Post. The hospital laid off 328 employees early this year, according to a notice filed with state regulators. The hospital said the layoffs would begin Feb. 1 and may come in stages. The hospital’s owner is planning to transition the facility into a behavioral health and wellness campus.

Economy adds 431K jobs in March, unemployment down to 3.6 percent

The U.S. added 431,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dropped to 3.6 percent in March, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department.

Job growth fell slightly short of expectations, as consensus estimates from economists projected a gain of roughly 490,000 jobs in March and a decline in the jobless rate to 3.7 percent.

But resilient consumer spending and historically strong demand for workers helped power the U.S. economy to another study job gain.

The Labor Department also revised the January and February job gains up by a combined 95,000, bringing the total of jobs added by the U.S. economy in 2022 up to 1,685,000 million.

More Americans who left the workforce during the pandemic appeared to be returning to the job hunt in March, a promising sign as businesses struggle to fill a record number of openings. The labor force participation rate ticked higher to 62.4 percent and the employment-population ratio—the proportion of working-age adults in the labor force—rose to 60.1 percent.

Wage growth also accelerated in March with average hourly earnings rising 5.6 percent over the past 12 months, up from 5.1 percent in February. 

The wage growth comes as inflation batters the Biden administration and Democrats politically, contributing to the president’s approval ratings being stuck in the low 40s. This has contributed to the anxiety in his party in a midterm election year, as Democrats are worried they could lose both the House and Senate majorities in this fall’s elections.

Gas prices have risen further with the Russian war in Ukraine and the international sanctions on Moscow. President Biden on Thursday announced he would be released 1 million barrels of oil a day from the nation’s strategic reserves to try to offer some help to lower gas prices.

The administration has touted the strength of the job market and the overall economy in the face of attacks from Republicans on inflation. And the March report offered more good news.

Overall, job-seekers continued to enjoy ample opportunities to find work at businesses across the economy even in the face of the highest annual inflation in 40 years. And businesses hit hardest by the pandemic-driven recession were among the top job-gainers in March.

The leisure and hospitality industry added 112,000 jobs in March, with restaurants and bars adding 61,000 jobs and accommodation businesses adding 25,000. Employment in the sector is still down 1.5 million from the onset of the pandemic.

Professional and business services companies gained 102,000 jobs in March and retailers added 49,000 employees, pushing both sectors well above their pre-pandemic employment levels.

The manufacturing, construction, and financial sectors also saw strong jobs gains last month.

The strong March job haul is the latest in a string of stellar employment reports. The U.S. has gained an average of 562,000 jobs each month in 2022—the same rate as in 2021, when the country added a record-breaking 6.8 million jobs

Even so, steady monthly job growth has done little to bolster Biden’s approval ratings and voters’ views about his handling of the economy. While job growth, consumer spending, the stock market and property values rebounded rapidly from the recession, a 7.9 percent annual increase in prices has wiped out the political benefit of a strong economy otherwise.

Jobless claims: Another 205,000 individuals filed new claims last week

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/weekly-unemployment-claims-week-ended-dec-18-2021-232812196.html

New weekly jobless claims held below pre-pandemic levels last week, further underscoring still-solid demand for labor heading into the new year. 

The Labor Department released its latest weekly jobless claims report Thursday at 8:30 a.m. ET. Here were the main metrics from the print, compared to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Initial jobless claims, week ended Dec. 18: 205,000 vs. 205,000 expected and a downwardly revised 205,000 during prior week 
  • Continuing claims, week ended Dec. 11: 1.859 million vs. 1.835 million expected and an upwardly revised 1.867 million during prior week

This week’s new jobless claims report coincides with the survey week for the December monthly jobs report from the Labor Department, offering an early indication of the relative strength expected in that print due for release in early January. 

At 205,000, initial unemployment claims were expected to come in below even pre-pandemic levels yet again, with jobless claims having averaged around 220,000 per week throughout 2019. Earlier this month, first-time unemployment filings fell sharply to 188,000, or the lowest level since 1969. And based on the latest report, the four-week moving average for new claims was near its lowest in 52 years, ticking up by 2,750 week-over-week to reach 206,250. 

Continuing claims have also come down sharply from pandemic-era highs, albeit while remaining slightly above the 2019 average of about 1.7 million. This metric, which counts the total number of individuals claiming benefits across regular state programs, came in below 2 million for a fourth straight week and reached the lowest level since March 2020.

“The claims data indicate strong demand for workers and a reluctance by businesses to lay off workers,” Rubeela Farooqi, chief economist for High Frequency Economics, wrote in a note. “However, disruptions around Omicron and Delta could be a headwind if businesses have to close for health-related reasons.”

“Overall, the direction in the labor market recovery remains positive, with demand still strong,” she added. “Labor shortages are persisting, preventing a stronger recovery, although these appeared to ease somewhat in November.” 

And indeed, policymakers have also taken note of the improving labor market situation. In a press conference last week, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell maintained, “Amid improving labor market conditions and very strong demand for workers, the economy has been making rapid progress toward maximum employment.And at the close of the Federal Open Market Committee’s latest policy-setting meeting, officials decided to speed their rate of asset-purchase tapering, paring back some crisis-era support in the economy as the recovery progressed. 

Many Americans have also cited solid labor market conditions, especially as job openings hold at historically high levels. In the Conference Board’s latest Consumer Confidence report for December, 55.1% of consumers surveyed said jobs were “plentiful.” While this rate was down slightly from November’s 55.5%, it still represented a “historically strong reading,” according to the Conference Board. 

9 hospitals laying off workers

Layoffs are back in NC: Emerson Electric to close facility; Global Brands  cutting jobs | WRAL TechWire

Several hospitals across the U.S. are laying off workers over the next three months. 

Below are nine hospitals and health systems that laid off employees or announced plans to implement layoffs since Oct. 1. 

1. Community Hospital Long Beach (Calif.) plans to lay off 328 employees early next year, according to a notice filed with state regulators. The hospital said the layoffs are set to begin after Jan. 31, 2022, and may come in stages. The layoffs are a result of Community Hospital Long Beach ending acute care and closing its emergency department. 

2. Watsonville (Calif.) Community Hospital is preparing to lay off 677 workers, according to a notice filed with the state Nov. 29. The hospital entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy Dec. 5 and announced a tentative sale agreement with the Pajaro Valley Healthcare District Project. If the sale to the nonprofit group or another buyer is finalized by Jan. 28, all 677 employees will be terminated by Watsonville Community Hospital. CEO Steven Salyer said all potential buyers are being asked to offer employment to the hospital’s workers. If the sale isn’t finalized, the hospital will close after the bankruptcy court authorizes those steps, and all employees would be terminated Jan. 28, according to the notice to the state. Funds made available through the bankruptcy process may allow the hospital to delay the layoffs.

3. Pensacola, Fla.-based Baptist Health Care said in a notice filed with state regulators that it is eliminating 233 jobs in February when it outsources various services to Wayne, Pa.-based Compass One Healthcare. Affected employees were offered positions with Compass One at the same or higher wages, according to the Nov. 22 layoff notice. 

4. West Reading, Pa.-based Tower Health filed a notice in early November with state regulators indicating it would lay off 293 employees by Dec. 31. The health system said the layoffs would affect workers at Jennersville Hospital in West Grove, Pa., which Tower Health was planning to close by the end of the year. In late November, the health system announced it entered into a definitive agreement to sell Jennersville Hospital and another facility to Canyon Atlantic Partners, a hospital management firm based in Austin, Texas. The health system subsequently called off that deal. It plans to close Jennersville Hospital on Dec. 31 and Brandywine Hospital in Coatesville, Pa., on Jan. 31. The closures will result in the loss of more than 800 jobs, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal

5. Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City is laying off 56 workers in February, but affected employees will be offered employment with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, according to a notice filed with the state Nov. 8. The layoffs are due to the integration of electronic medical records systems at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, according to the notice. 

6. Ascension Technologies, the IT subsidiary of St. Louis-based Ascension, outsourced about 330 tech jobs in November, according to a notice filed with the state. Affected employees could apply for other positions within Ascension Technologies or with the new vendor that took over the tech support for application and platforms, collaboration and end-user engineering, network and telecom and field services areas.

7. Middletown, N.Y.-based Garnet Health laid off 66 workers Oct. 29 when it closed its skilled nursing unit, according to a notice filed with the state. 

8. Kindred Hospital Northwest Indiana, a 70-bed long-term acute care hospital in Hammond, is closing, resulting in 110 layoffs, according to a notice filed with the state in August. The layoffs started Oct. 10. Kindred said the closure is a result of Mishawaka, Ind.-based Franciscan Health’s decision to downsize its Hammond hospital, a move that will eliminate Kindred’s space on the campus. 

9. Garland (Texas) Behavioral Hospital, part of King of Prussia, Pa.-based Universal Health Services, is closing and laying off its 119 employees, according to the Dallas Morning News. The layoffs started Oct. 7, according to a notice filed with the state. 

New jobless claims totaled 184,000 last week, reaching lowest since 1969

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/weekly-unemployment-claims-week-ended-dec-4-2021-192034644.html

Weekly U.S. jobless claims fell to 184,000, lowest level since 1969

New initial jobless claims improved much more than expected last week to reach the lowest level in more than five decades, further pointing to the tightness of the present labor market as many employers seek to retain workers. 

The Labor Department released its weekly jobless claims report on Thursday. Here were the main metrics from the print, compared to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Initial unemployment claims, week ended Dec. 4: 184,000 vs. 220,000 expected and an upwardly revised 227,000 during prior week 
  • Continuing claims, week ended Nov. 27: 1.992 million vs. 1.910 million expected and a downwardly revised 1.954 million during prior week

Jobless claims decreased once more after a brief tick higher in late November. At 184,000, initial jobless claims were at their lowest level since Sept. 1969. 

“The consensus always looked a bit timid, in light of the behavior of unadjusted claims in the week after Thanksgiving in previous years when the holiday fell on the 25th, but the drop this time was much bigger than in those years, and bigger than implied by the recent trend,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in an email Thursday morning. “A correction next week seems likely, but the trend in claims clearly is falling rapidly, reflecting the extreme tightness of the labor market and the rebound in GDP growth now underway.”

After more than a year-and-a-half of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., jobless claims have begun to hover below even their pre-pandemic levels. New claims were averaging about 220,000 per week throughout 2019. At the height of the pandemic and stay-in-place restrictions, new claims had come in at more than 6.1 million during the week ended April 3, 2020. 

Continuing claims, which track the number of those still receiving unemployment benefits via regular state programs, have also come down sharply from pandemic-era highs, and held below 2 million last week. 

“Beyond weekly moves, the overall trend in filings remains downward and confirms that businesses facing labor shortages are holding onto workers,” wrote Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics, in a note on Wednesday. 

Farooqi added, however, that “the decline in layoffs is not translating into faster job growth on a consistent basis, which was evident in a modest gain in non-farm payrolls in November.” 

“For now, labor supply remains constrained and will likely continue to see pandemic effects as the health backdrop and a lack of safe and affordable child care keeps people out of the workforce,” she added. 

Other recent data on the labor market have also affirmed these lingering pressures. The November jobs report released from the Labor Department last Friday reflected a smaller number of jobs returned than expected last month, with payrolls growing by the least since December 2020 at just 210,000. And the labor force participation rate came in at 61.8%, still coming in markedly below its pre-pandemic February 2020 level of 63.3%. 

And meanwhile, the Labor Department on Wednesday reported that job openings rose more than expected in October to top 11 million, coming in just marginally below July’s all-time high of nearly 11.1 million. The quits rate eased slightly to 2.8% from September’s record 3.0% rate. 

“There is a massive shortage of labor out there in the country that couldn’t come at a worst time now that employers need workers like they have never needed them before. This is a permanent upward demand shift in the economy that won’t be alleviated by companies offering greater incentives to their new hires,” Chris Rupkey, FWDBONDS chief economist, wrote in a note Wednesday. “Wage inflation will continue to keep inflation running hot as businesses fall all over themselves in a bidding war for talent.”