The MedZilla Report for November 2010 -- Unemployment Steady Despite Job Creation

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With the entire U.S. focused on upcoming midterm elections, it seemed as though there was little time for the job market to change -- unemployment remained steady and health care job creation continued at its 2010 rate, adding 24,000 new positions.

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Given how tough things have been for sales reps, it's good to see companies posting jobs again

With the entire U.S. focused on the November 2 midterm election, the job front remained relatively quiet in October. The unemployment rate remained at 9.6 percent, and according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, layoffs were only up about two percent in October, with only 2,000 of them coming from the pharmaceutical industry -- a drop of more than 60 percent. Meanwhile, health care job creation stayed on the same pace it has been for all of 2010, adding about 24,000 new positions.

According to MedZilla.com, the internet's most established source for pharmaceutical, health care, and biotechnology job postings, despite all the new positions added, the number active job searches performed by candidates did not change from September to October. However, a significant number of new jobs were posted across multiple categories -- including sales representatives. "Given how tough things have been for sales reps, it's good to see companies posting jobs again," said Del Johnston, MedZilla's Client Relations Manager. Additionally, companies increased active searches for sales candidates by almost two percent in October. Geographically, candidates in Michigan got the most good news, as company searches for new employees in all fields were up almost six percent. Significant increases were also recorded in Ohio and Connecticut, while only companies California, New Jersey, and Illinois cut back their search efforts more than one percent in October.

The most significant personnel reduction announcement in October came from UMass Memorial Health Care, who planned to cut back by 350 people using a combination of layoffs, open positions, and overtime restrictions (boston.com, 10/13/10). The cuts will include nurses. Some nurses will also be among the 43 laid off from the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula (beckershospitalreview.com, 10/25/10). And, in layoffs that are being attributed at least in part to fears over funding from the health care reform bill, 23 jobs are being eliminated at Principal Financial Group as they stop selling health insurance (dallasnews.com, 10/20/10).

One area that has faced continuous job cuts as hospitals and health systems have tried to save money has been mental and residential care -- and, in fact, more cuts were announced this month, in Tioga County, Pennsylvania (wetmtv.com, 10/19/10). "The repercussions of those job cuts are starting to show,"said John Burkhardt, Director of Operations for MedZilla.com, citing an article in tulsaworld.com (10/31/10) about how more than 70 percent of those needing mental health or substance abuse support in Oklahoma are having difficulty finding the care they need because of cutbacks. "Given that we're now seeing patient caregivers such as nurses becoming victims of job reduction, what will happen in a year or two after more health systems are forced to cut doctors and nurses?"

Despite this worrisome news, though, jobs are still being created. About 1,200 new neuroscience jobs are headed to Indianapolis -- Clarian Health has committed to a new facility encompassing six blocks of the city's downtown area (indystar.com, 10/14/10). Indianapolis will also benefit from a professional service center coming from Ascension Health, which will bring in 500 more jobs (ibj.com, 10/29/10). Meanwhile, pharmacy jobs in Connecticut are projected to grow at a rate of 17 percent through 2018 (theday.com, 10/17/10), and in Michigan home health care is expected to surge 44 percent through 2018 (freep.com, 10/10/10).

At the same time, some believe job creation might be seemingly slowed due to older workers remaining in the workforce (moneywatch.bnet.com, 10/6/10). "Although it seems like older employees are getting the axe pretty often," Johnston said, "many of them already entrenched in managerial roles are hanging on as long as possible because they're concerned about their retirement plans or they want to retain their health care as long as possible." This also creates difficulties for job seekers in their 30s who were laid off amid a cost-cutting purge, short-circuiting a promising career. "We always recommend keeping your network at the ready and your resume updated," Burkhardt said. "You never know if a layoff is going to affect you, and we've seen time and again that no one is one hundred percent safe."

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