Local Health Care Labor Market Remains Sluggish

Even though the national health care labor market weakened during the third quarter, the Twin Cities still lagged behind.

The Twin Cities third-quarter health care labor market lagged behind national levels for the third quarter in a row, according to Health Workforce Solutions, LLC's Labor Market Pulse Index (LMPI), which was released Friday.

The index, which is based loosely on the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, studies 30 health care labor markets by tracking elements including temporary health workforce shortages and surpluses, facility and bed closures, announced layoffs and expansions, and local economic trends.

The metro area registered an LMPI score of 42.25, which was just about even with the second quarter and lower than the national composite of 50.62-which was down 14 percent from the prior quarter.

The Twin Cities' score was one of the weakest during the third quarter. Other markets that scored low were Riverside/San Bernardino (34.49), New York metro/Northern New Jersey (38.54), and Sacramento (41.77).

Las Vegas had the best LMPI score of 81.58, which was a 485 percent increase from last quarter.

Health Workforce Solutions' (HWS) report cited some positive news for the health care labor market in the Twin Cities, including the official kick off of the University of Minnesota and Fairview Health Services' $175 million campaign to fund the new University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital, which is scheduled to open in early 2011.

The report also noted that Park Nicollet Health Services has restarted building at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, a year after it put projects on hold due to the recession.

On a negative note, North Memorial Health Care plans to eliminate 200 positions to make up for second-quarter revenue shortfalls and Children's Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota plans to eliminate between 200 and 250 full-time positions by mid-November.

HWS is a strategic advisory and research firm focused on workforce issues and analytics in health care. It is based in San Francisco.