February 28, 2022

Changes in US healthcare workforce during COVID-19

Editor's Note

This study led by the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, finds substantial changes in the healthcare workforce during years 2020 and 2021 of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the findings:

  • Healthcare employment levels fell from 22.2 million in 2019 to 21.1 million in 2020 (a 5.2% decline), and then rebounded to 21.8 million in Q2 2021.
  • Average wages increased at a lower rate compared to other industries—5.0% vs 6.7% in 2020 and 1.5% vs 6.9% in Q2 2021, respectively.
  • Employment declines varied by type of organization, with the largest declines in dentists’ offices (10%) and skilled nursing facilities (8.4%) and the smallest declines in hospitals (2.5%) and physicians’ offices (4.6%).

Further research is needed to understand if organizations are demanding fewer workers or if fewer workers are willing to work in healthcare, the researchers say.

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