1 in 5 hospitals plan 'permanent' job cuts this year: report

"Nineteen percent of hospital CFOs projected permanent worker layoffs during the coming year," says Penn State's Workforce and Education Development Initiative, citing a survey by HCPro's HealthLeaders Media, Marblehead, Mass., which says it surveyed 1,200 US hospital executives. Read survey results here. Excerpts:

"Over 80% believed that layoffs and staff reductions are most effective in dealing with the current economic crisis. The CFOs rated labor costs as the second-ranked driver of health care costs behind government laws and mandates."

The Penn State group laid out how important hospitals are to PA employment: "Hospitals employed 272,553 workers in 340 Pennsylvania facilities during 2008," or about 5% of the US hospital workforce of 5.5 million. (The state is home to about 4% of the total US population, but a lot of them are old...) "Employment in Pennsylvania hospitals grew by 15,059 workers between 2004 and 2008. "

"Average annual earnings per worker in the industry were $57,361 in 2008, although earnings differed significantly by occupation... On average:
- 5,166 hospital physicians earned $64.03 per hour worked...
- 73,862 registered nurses earned $28.69 per hour
- 2,859 medical assistants earned $12.94 per hour.
- 15,956 workers... earned $9.86 per hour or less, which is the poverty wage for households composed of two adults and two children in Pennsylvania ... 
- Dining room workers, dining room and cafeteria attendants, child care workers, and waiters and waitresses earned less than $8.00 per hour, which is considered the living wage for a one–adult household in Pennsylvania."