Health care employment rebounding from pandemic job losses

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Within the industry, physicians’ offices lead some measures as nursing care facilities need workers.

After a COVID-19 pandemic drop, employment is rising in some sectors within health care, and with physicians’ offices leading the charge.

Although the pandemic recession is over, job market recovery remains “incomplete,” according to a report by the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker. Analysts tracked numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Employment Statistics and Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

“In the past, health sector jobs have been relatively recession-proof,” the report said, but that changed in 2020 when employment fell in a number of job categories. From April 2019 to April 2020, health employment fell by 8.2% and nonhealth employment dropped by 14%.

Overall, health and nonhealth jobs both rebounded, with health care returning to 95% of pre-pandemic job numbers by July 2020. That recovery was quicker than nonhealth care jobs, which did not return to pre-pandemic levels until June 2021.

In December last year, the health sector added 54,700 jobs over the previous month, topping a February 2020 peak by 1.2%, according to the Peterson-KFF report.

At the doctor’s office


Physicians’ offices had one of the worst drops in April 2020, when 11.1% of the workforce lost jobs in the early days of the pandemic. Jobs in physicians’ offices had climbed back to pre-pandemic levels by April 2021, and have been rising steadily since.

As of December 2022, employment in offices of physicians was up 5.8% from pre-pandemic levels. It was the most among outpatient care centers (up 4.2% from pre-pandemic levels), home health care services (up 3.6%), and hospitals (up 0.8%), the Peterson-KFF report said.

Within health care, only offices of physicians were in line to meet expectations of job growth, based on the historic industry growth rate from 2017 to early 2020.

Care for the elderly

National news reports were filled with tragic details about COVID-19 spreading through nursing homes, and that sector within health care has not recovered jobs yet.

As of December 2022, employment in community care facilities for the elderly as down 6.5% from pre-pandemic levels, while nursing care facility jobs were down 13.3%, the largest percentage within the health care industry, according to Peterson-KFF.

Getting paid

Wages for health care jobs are rising more quickly than overall wages. Since February 2020, pay is up 17% in health sector jobs as of November 2022, compared to 14.6% for all jobs. Health care wages have beaten overall pay every month since August 2021.