Employment of Nurses Decreased Early in COVID-19 Pandemic

Employment rebounded during the course of 2020, apart from nursing homes, where it remained lower in June 2021 than February 2020

nurse nursing
Adobe Stock

TUESDAY, Jan. 4, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Employment of nurses decreased early in the COVID-19 pandemic, then rebounded in most sectors, apart from nursing homes, according to a study published in the January issue of Health Affairs.

Peter I. Buerhaus, Ph.D., R.N., from Montana State University in Bozeman, and colleagues used national data from federal government surveys to demonstrate the pandemic's impact on employment and earnings across categories of the nurse workforce. Monthly data were obtained from the Current Population Survey between January 2011 to June 2021 to identify employment trends.

The researchers identified a decrease in overall health care employment, with the decline varying by sector. Employment had decreased most in physician offices, outpatient care centers, and home health care by April 2020 (−11, −8, and −7 percent, respectively); the smallest decline was seen in hospitals (−2 percent). A small decline was seen in nursing homes by April 2020 (−3 percent), which continued into 2021, unlike other sectors. During the course of 2020, employment in most sectors gradually returned toward prepandemic levels, with employment levels rebounding in hospitals, physician offices, and outpatient centers by June 2021 (−2.2, −0.7, and +2.6 percent, respectively); employment in nursing homes remained 13.2 percent lower in June 2021 versus February 2020.

"Employment of nurses in the United States fell early in the pandemic because of lack of demand as people reduced their use of health care," the authors write. "As the pandemic wore on, use of health care services resumed, but employment levels of nurses remained low while unemployment rates receded and wages increased."

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the Johnson & Johnson Foundation and UnitedHealth Group, which partially funded the study.

Abstract/Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)

Physician's Briefing