Female community nurse putting on protective mask in car
Credit: Adam and Kev

Workforce shortages in other sectors of healthcare don’t come close to the job losses the long-term care industry has suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living. 

Overall, nursing homes have lost about 221,000 jobs — a 14% drop — between March 2020 and October 2021, federal employment data revealed. Assisted living facilities have lost 38,000 jobs during that same timeframe — a drop of 8.2%.

The latest federal jobs report also found that nursing homes saw job growth in October for the first time since the pandemic began.

In comparison, home health has lost about 19,000 jobs between March 2020 and October 2021 — a decline of just 1.2% from pre-pandemic levels. Hospitals have lost 86,000 jobs, which is a drop of 1.6%. Those sectors, as a result, have seen their employment return to full or near full recovery. 

Data also revealed that physician offices and outpatient care centers have gained a combined 37,000 jobs during that time frame and are already on the path toward being fully recovered.

“As many caregivers are getting burned out by the pandemic, workers are leaving the field for jobs in other healthcare settings or other industries altogether. Chronic Medicaid underfunding, combined with the billions of dollars providers have spent to fight the pandemic, have left long-term care providers struggling to compete for qualified staff,” Mark Parkinson, AHCA/NCAL president and CEO, said of the results. 

“We desperately need the help of policymakers to attract and retain more caregivers, so that our nation’s most vulnerable have access to the long-term care they need,” he added.