Healthcare posts gains in October jobs report

Healthcare added about 31,000 jobs in October, with gains of approximately 25,000 in ambulatory care, according to the monthly jobs report released Nov. 2 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The report touted slightly more than 11,000 jobs added in physicians' offices, just over 6,000 in hospitals, nearly 2,000 in outpatient care centers and nearly 8,000 in home health. The only healthcare segment to lose jobs (about 600) was nursing and residential care.

BLS noted that over the last year, healthcare employment has risen by 296,000.

Overall, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 171,000 in October, reported BLS. The unemployment rate (7.9 percent) and the number of unemployed persons (12.3 million) were essentially unchanged from September.

With just four days to the election, the BLS employment numbers were eagerly awaited, and with the better-than-expected jobs gains, many analysts commented that the report leans in President Obama's favor.

As the New York Times noted, even though job growth has been modest, October's numbers mark 25 straight months of gains.

That slow-but-steady growth trend may be enough to make this jobs report “the single most motivating event to take place at this point in the campaign,” wrote CNN’s Ali Velshi.

Velshi said the trend indicates the country is moving in the right direction – creating jobs. “It is to President Obama’s advantage if you subscribe to trend and Mitt Romney’s if you think it is too slow,” Velshi wrote. “But it is pointing in the right way.”

Obama will be able to point to the steady growth, wrote Susan Page on USA Today’s website, as well as to the decline in the numbers of Americans who stopped looking for work out of discouragement (813,000 in October, a decline of 154,000 from October 2011).

Romney, though, Page noted, can look to the report to make arguments in his own favor, namely that the jobless rate remains high and there is still no growth in household income.

Earlier in the week, there were some reports that the BLS would delay the release of the employment numbers due to superstorm Sandy, which shut down the federal government for two days.

The Los Angeles Times reported that behind the talk of a delay of the release of the jobs numbers was a concern from some quarters that the Obama administration wanted to withhold potentially negative information about the economy just days before the election.

BLS confirmed Oct. 31 that the numbers would be released on time. The agency noted with the release of its employment report that Sandy did not impact the employment data because it was collected before the storm hit.