Health care worker need remains, but slowing

Health care added 34,000 jobs in the U.S. in March.

The need for health care workers continues to grow locally as jobs are added to the industry, although the rate of new jobs added across the U.S. is slowing, data shows.

In March, health care added 34,000 jobs in the U.S., lower than the average monthly gain of 54,000 over the prior six months. Job growth occurred in home health care services (+15,000) and hospitals (+11,000). Employment continued to trend up in nursing and residential care facilities (+8,000).

“Everyone’s hiring, and it’s not just one position,” Jesse Reed, CareSource’s director of life services for Ohio, said at CareSource’s Spring Community Resource and Job Fair held on Tuesday. “They’re hiring everything from teachers to retail to manufacturing to maintenance. It’s all here, and it’s all jobs...It’s the companies where you have an opportunity to grow and advance within your position within the company, working up toward a living wage.”

Ohio added 1,700 health services jobs in March and the number of job openings remain high. There are over 52,000 health-related jobs open in Ohio, according to Ohio Means Jobs.

Senior Resource Connection was at CareSource’s resource and job fair on Tuesday, hiring for a variety of positions, including for home health aides, meals on wheels drivers, and more.

“We’re essentially a one-stop for seniors who need assistance,” said Candace J. Lee, director of human resources and operations at Senior Resource Connection.

Services Senior Resource Connection provides include home health services, social services, meals on wheels, emergency response buttons, and more to help individuals who are over 60 years old remain at home and not in a skilled nursing facility, said Kelly Corcoran, director of visiting home care at Senior Resource Connection. “We’re always hiring.”

“Especially since the pandemic, we can’t get people to stay in the door long enough. We have a hard time hiring people at all that want to work, even part-time,” Corcoran said.

Nova Behavioral Health, which provides mental health and substance abuse treatment, was out on Tuesday looking to hire cooks, peer support specialists, outpatient program managers, counselors, technicians, and more.

Nova has been impacted by the workforce shortage, but not to their detriment, said Mercedes Johnson, director of administration. Nova helps assist employees in getting the credentialing required for working in behavioral health.

Health care jobs are projected to grow 13% from 2021 to 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is expected to create approximately 2 million new jobs over the decade. There are also anticipated to be 1.9 million job openings a year, on average, due to growth and replacement needs.

Locally, Premier Health has over 2,900 jobs posted, and Kettering Health has over 1,100 jobs posted, according to Ohio Means Jobs.

The median annual wage for health care practitioners and technical occupations—such as registered nurses, physicians and surgeons, and dental hygienists—was $75,040 in May 2021. Health care support occupations—such as home health and personal care aides, occupational therapy assistants, and medical transcriptionists—had a median annual wage of $29,880 in May 2021.

The labor force participation rate, at 62.6%, continued to trend up in March, but this was still below the pre-pandemic February 2020 level of 63.3%.

“Job seekers are a little bit more empowered than they’ve ever been where they can kind of pick and choose,” Reed said. “You’ve got a lot of power right now if you’re a job seeker, especially if you’re ready to work and you want to work, the sky’s the limit right now.”

Other industries are also trying to find workers. Cors Head Start, which provides pre-school education programs and serves nine counties, was hiring teachers and early childhood service coordinators at CareSource’s event Tuesday.

“We’re actually starting to get people right now. I think people are coming back into the workforce,” said Angie Westfall, recruiting coordinator.

Income and job security are also among the social determinants of health that can impact individuals’ health, how they function, and their quality of life.

“There’s correlations between higher income and better health outcomes,” Reed said.

One in 10 people live in poverty in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, impacting their access to food and sufficient housing. The more you make, the easier it is to buy better food and better housing, along with giving individuals the opportunity to afford necessary health care visits.

“Whether we’re talking food, whether we’re talking housing, just the more income someone is bringing in, the easier life is in general,” Reed said.

Jobs by the numbers

  • 34K: US health care jobs added in March
  • 54K: Monthly average of US health care jobs added Feb.-Sept.
  • 52K+: Health-related jobs open in Ohio

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