Report: Nursing homes shed 221K jobs since start of pandemic while other sectors have recovered

Nursing Homes
Nursing homes shed 221,000 jobs since the start of the pandemic while other healthcare sectors like hospitals and physician offices have recovered from declines in employment. (Getty/Chinnapong)

Nursing homes have lost 221,000 jobs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the most among all healthcare providers, a new industry report finds.

The report (PDF), released Wednesday by the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, shows that while other healthcare employment sectors have recovered some of their job losses, recovery for nursing homes remains stagnant.

“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,” said Mark Parkinson, the group’s CEO and president, in a statement.

The group analyzed employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics since March 2020 when the pandemic reached full swing in the U.S.

It showed employment in nursing homes declined by 220,000 from 1.58 million in March 2020 to 1.36 million in October 2021. Assisted living centers also lost 38,000 jobs in that time period.

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Other healthcare industries saw similar declines in employment at the onset of the pandemic but have recovered.

For instance, hospital employment was at 5.17 million in March 2020 and after a dramatic decline has recovered to 5.15 million this October.

Physicians' offices also saw a dip in employment but have gained 70,000 jobs since the start of the pandemic. Outpatient care centers also gained 57,000 jobs as of October.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities had issues with staffing even before the pandemic, and, now, burnout from the pandemic has led to more retirements across the healthcare industry.

A recent report from Mercer estimated that 29 states won’t be able to keep up with demand for registered nurses over the next five years.

In addition, while employment numbers have recovered from declines caused by the pandemic, hospitals are still facing higher expenses for contracted staff and declines due to burnout.