medical professional sitting in hallway

Despite red-hot demand for workers, March turned out to be a dismal month for hiring in the healthcare industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the sector added a measly 8,000 jobs last month after adding more than 64,000 in February. BLS singled out home health in February as the biggest beneficiary of jobs in the healthcare industry but didn’t provide details about which healthcare sector added the most jobs one month later.

The healthcare industry has shed about 1.8% of its workforce or 298,000 jobs since February of 2020 — one month before the COVID-19 virus began forcing lockdowns and restrictions on healthcare providers across the country. Although the healthcare industry has been in the midst of a staffing shortage for several years, the pandemic has only made it worse. 

According to a recent report by nonprofit Pew Research, the shortage of healthcare workers is becoming so dire that governors from 20 states directly addressed the crisis in their state-of-the state speeches, calling for a range of policy measures. Among the fixes recommended by the National Academy for State Health Policy are improved working conditions, streamlined training, the development of career pathways and enhanced data collection. 

But the crisis could get worse before it gets better. A poll last month of 2,500 nurses found that more than one-third plan to leave their jobs sometime this year, citing burnout as the primary reason for quitting. More than two-thirds of the nurses polled said they had been physically or verbally assaulted on the job and more than half expressed anger over staffing challenges.