September 22, 2021

Nursing Homes Keep Losing Workers

Nursing homes have a long-term care problem: 18 months after the Covid-19 crisis began, their staffs are still shrinking.

While employment in nearly every occupation has been recovering from the shock of the pandemic, the number of people working in nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities has continued to drop, according to federal data.

Nursing homes and residential-care facilities employed three million people in July, down 380,000 workers from February 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Industry employment has fallen every month except one since the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic in March 2020. By contrast, job losses in the leisure and hospitality industry, another hard-hit sector, began reversing in May last year, and the industry has recovered almost 80% of the jobs that were lost in the first months of the pandemic.

“I’ve been in the industry for 40 years and I’ve never seen it this bad,” said Terry Robertson, chief executive of Josephine Caring Community, a long-term-care facility in Stanwood, Wash.

Turnover has been twice as high as it was before the pandemic, he said. “We turned down 138 admissions from hospitals last month because we didn’t have the staff to open another unit,” he said.

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