Healthcare workers are not returning to hospitals and nursing homes

The US healthcare sector added 64K jobs in February, an increase from recent months, but the gains were concentrated in provider offices and home health companies. Hospitals and nursing facilities, which have both struggled with widespread staffing shortages, saw more anemic job growth. In particular, nursing homes have lost 15 percent of their workforce, remaining significantly understaffed even though resident occupancy rates still lag pre-pandemic levels. This week, nursing home groups pushed back against President Biden’s call for minimum staffing levels, calling them unrealistic without federal funding.

The Gist: Hospital and nursing facility workers have taken on some of the most taxing and dangerous jobs during the pandemic, caring for the sickest patients while personally risking COVID infection. 

Healthcare workers are increasingly opting for safer, less intense jobs in outpatient care settings like physician offices, or are exiting direct patient care entirely. Even as the pandemic subsides, recruitment and retention of nurses and other caregivers will be of paramount importance, given rising vacancy rates and unabating staff shortages.

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