Employment in nursing homes and other residential care settings fell again in May, but at a lower rate: 37,000 jobs lost versus 117,000 lost in April. That’s according to the latest jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Long-term care residential settings have lost 4.7% of their workforce since February. Hospitals lost 26,700 jobs last month, compared with the 134,900 positions they lost in April. 

Despite job losses across hospitals and long-term care facilities, the May jobs report marked the first month that healthcare employment overall has grown since the beginning of the pandemic. The bureau reported that 312,400 jobs had been added in May, regaining 20% of the 1.57 million jobs lost in March and April. The increases were primarily in ambulatory healthcare services. 

Experts say the pace of health sector job recovery likely will depend on the ability of providers to maintain COVID-19 care while returning to a more normal course of business. It also will depend on whether consumers feel comfortable returning to provider offices for visits and hospitals for elective care.

As lockdowns end, many hospitals have been able to restart some procedures that were halted in late March and April, although many expect it will take months for volumes to return to pre-pandemic levels.

This article appeared in the McKnight’s Business Daily, a joint effort of McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.