Mass Layoffs Mounting at U.S. Hospitals

December 23, 2008

More hospitals have recorded mass layoffs in 2008 than in any year in the past decade, and there’s still one more month of data to compile.

Mass layoffs are defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as any staff reduction that affects at least 50 people. The latest figures released Friday, December 19, include statistics through the end of November. The number of hospitals where layoffs took place has already surpassed the 10-year record. If trends hold, 117 hospitals will have reported mass layoffs to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The previous record for the past decade happened in 2003, when 100 hospitals reported mass layoffs.

But the numbers also show that the total number of employees who lost jobs as a result of mass layoffs is not on pace to break the 10-year record.

If current trends hold, more than 9,700 hospital employees will have filed initial claims for unemployment compensation in 2008 as a result of mass layoffs. That would be highest such number since 2005, which saw nearly 13,300 laid off, and 28 percent more than the 10-year average. The news comes despite the relative optimism in health care as compared with the rest of the economy, where most other major sectors of employment have posted net losses of jobs for the year.

Overall, the number of employees at hospitals grew 3 percent in the 12 months ended in November, with total employment of about 4.7 million.

Filed by Joe Carlson of Modern Healthcare, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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