Researchers from the Department of Health Care Management at the Wharton School in Philadelphia and the Department of Health Systems, Management and Policy at the Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora examined the evolution of unemployment among healthcare workers from January 2015 to April 2022. The sample included nearly 508,000 healthcare workers who responded to a voluntary survey called the Current Population Survey of the Integrated Microdata Series for Public Use, which is public-use data.
In the healthcare space, researchers have found differences in unemployment across specialties. For example, low-income occupations, including therapists, technicians, and health care aides, were associated with higher unemployment rates than physicians. According to the researchers, this may be a reflection of how federal aid has been deployed to health care organizations “and what service lines have been prioritized,” research paper authors Sasmira Matta, MHS, wrote. candidate at the Wharton School, and Lauren H. Nicholas, PhD, MPP, associate professor at the Colorado School of Public Health.
“Comparing the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods, compared to doctors, there was a significantly larger increase in unemployment reported by therapists and technicians, aides and others [healthcare workers]“, discovered Matta and Nicholas.
The study also found that those with a bachelor’s degree reported significantly less unemployment compared to the less educated people in the sample compared to the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods.
They noted that the study had some limitations, including the inability to measure the share of healthcare workers who left the workforce completely. They were also limited in measuring associations between employment and COVID-19, and they reported limited power to understand interactions between occupations and demographics.
“Either way, these findings are relevant because the decline in healthcare employment opportunities has implications for the quality of care delivery, [healthcare worker] satisfaction and patient outcomes,” they concluded.
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