Hospital hiring down

A trend that would hit especially hard in Philadelphia, where "eds and meds" are among the biggest remaining employers: Healthcare hiring has been falling. Total U.S. healthcare employment fell by 6,000 in December, the first monthly drop in more than 10 years; the average monthly healthcare hiring gain for the full year slipped to 17,000, from 27,000 in 2012, writes John Silvia, chief economist for Wells Fargo Securities.

"The most sizable drag has come from hospitals," also doctors' offices, Silivia added, citing Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Also, recruiter Challenger, Gray & Christmas projections show "more cutbacks are on the horizon in the healthcare sector," after healthcare layoffs rose to 57,000 last year, from 36,000 a year earlier.

Americans are still getting older, so we'll need home health care providers and outpatient clinic workers -- but hospital hiring should stay weak this year, thanks to federal budget cuts and Medicare reimbursement reductions, Silvia concludes.