Health Care Workforce Shortages: An Updated Look
Alex Brill and Grant M. Seiter | AEIdeas
Last week, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing titled “Examining Health Care Workforce Shortages: Where Do We Go From Here?”
When we first wrote about this issue seven months ago, health care employment was 175,600 below its February 2020 peak and 954,000 below where it would have been had it continued to grow at its pre-pandemic rate. Now, health care employment has increased to 16.6 million (a new high), but there is still a large gap compared to pre-pandemic projections. As of January 2023, health care employment is 767,000 below the trend, a 4.4 percent shortfall.
Job openings in the sector remain at historic levels – 1.9 million in December 2022 – compared to an average of 1.6 million in 2021 and 1.1 million in 2019 and 2020. Figure 1 shows US health care employment relative to the pre-pandemic trend, as well as the number of experienced unemployed workers – those individuals available and actively looking for work who were previously employed in the health care sector. The number of experienced unemployed has declined to 359,000, which is approximately the same as two years before the pandemic and slightly less than half of the current projected employment gap.