In the early part of 2020, employment in the United States plummeted, with approximately 20 million people losing their jobs between February and May of this year. The healthcare industry tends to be viewed as one that is insulated from the losses in employment that occur during economic recessions.
Though jobs in healthcare have not been affected to the extent of those in other sectors, there has been significant job loss in healthcare as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, between February and April 2020, 1.5 million people lost their healthcare jobs.
A few factors have contributed to healthcare job loss this year. For one, many people have been too afraid to enter healthcare settings because they view doing so as increasing their risk of contracting COVID-19. Many of these people have therefore forgone the medical care they would otherwise seek, reducing the demand for healthcare services.
Similarly, to help reduce the spread of the virus, elective and non-emergency care have been delayed or canceled. Several healthcare facilities have therefore found themselves with little or no work to be done.
Drops in healthcare employment have not been equivalent across geography or job type. Whereas the national average for healthcare employment dropped about 9.5 % from February to April, the drop was a bit higher in New York City and Washington D.C. but a bit lower in Los Angeles and Phoenix. Hospital employment dropped only about 2% from February to April, whereas employment in the dental industry dropped 56%.
While office-based healthcare settings have suffered the most from an employment standpoint as a result of COVID-19, the healthcare industry added more than 300,000 jobs in May, suggesting that healthcare employment may be recovering. Nonetheless, the influence of the pandemic on healthcare employment can serve as a cautionary tale to help educate healthcare workers on the potential for changing circumstances to affect the security of their jobs and to think about the best ways to apply their skills should their specific roles become obsolete.