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Unemployment in Health Care Services During Coronavirus Pandemic

Updated : August 4th, 2020

Unemployment in Health Care Services

Yes, you read that right. We are all well aware of the importance of healthcare professionals at this crucial time. We read about the admirable efforts of frontline doctors, nurses, administrative staff, etc in handling the burden of patients. They are out there risking their health for our benefit.

And yet, The Employment Situation tells us that 43,000 jobs disappeared. How did the Coronavirus pandemic cause unemployment in Health Care Services? At the same time, the news also reports a shortage of healthcare professionals. What is happening? We will find out in this post.

Let’s begin by glancing at the sector during normal times when the economy is up and running. How were things before COVID-19 hit?

Overview of Health Care Services Sector

The sector employed an estimated 19.1 million people in 2018, considering the social assistance sector as well, which is closely linked in its function. The top 3 roles employing a maximum number of people are registered nurses, nursing assistants, and personal care aides. Physicians are the 5th largest role.

Work in this sector is mentally and physically demanding with people working an average of 35 hours per week. Employees earn an average of $28.30 per hour, though there is much variation with the role.

Impact of COVID-19

Despite the US being one of the top countries in medical spending, the surge in COVID-19 cases has stretched the healthcare system thin. Reports of shortages of masks, ventilators, beds, and other protective and emergency equipment are rife.

Due to lockdowns and stay-at-home orders in most states, job losses have taken place in dentists’ offices, physicians and other healthcare practitioners. The widespread unemployment in other sectors has blown back upon dentists, dermatologists, chiropractors, etc. whose services aren’t seen as a grave necessity in times requiring high savings. The medical assistance staff in such places also get furloughed.

Since elective surgeries have been put on hold, the associated staff have been furloughed. Hospitals have been compelled to send staff home and cut physicians’ pay because they haven’t the funds to deal with the pandemic. The CARES act funds are yet to arrive at the time this post is being written.

Caregiving staff cannot work due to the stay-at-home orders. The trickle-down effect of employment across the economy means that people may not be able to afford specialized care, either.

Jobs Still Hiring in Health Care Services

Some health care institutions like hospitals may be open to hiring administrative positions, janitorial staff, etc. States have expressed a need to recall retired nurses owing to the shortage due to the disease burden. Some of those skills are transferable to the pharma sector which may be interested in recruiting given the acceleration of drug testing.

Future Prospects For Health Care Services (And Social Assistance)

The under-preparation demonstrated by the healthcare system has shone a light upon the deficiencies of the sector. The US has been criticized for underspending on public health care. 

Considering the onslaught of climate change, it will be necessary to prepare for future public health emergencies like this one. Many people will be displaced and suffer from diseases in the future as weather extremes like heat waves and sea-level rise are predicted.

It is likely that this sector will recover very quickly when the economy runs at full strength again. There is a push to increase testing capacity and human capital in health care supporting companies including the pharma sector. This could lead to new job opportunities. 

The pandemic has underscored the necessity for data collection and analyses, so there should be opportunities especially for graduates who can pick up these skills. Mental health awareness is only rising and perhaps the pandemic will end with the need to address traumas caused by it. 

With the increase in the geriatric population, there should be scope for those having and willing to acquire geriatric care and social assistance skills. Also, social workers, community outreach workers, etc. have important roles to play in harmonious living and should quickly recover once stay-at-home orders lift.

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  1. AUGUST 11, 2020

    The Virginia Employment Commission has proven to be extremely unresponsiveness. I applied for unemployment benefits on June 1, 2020 and was surprisingly advised that my claim was denied because there was no record of my employment during the base year of January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019. However, not only was I employed through the year of 2019, I also filed my state taxes for 2019 in spring of this year and received a refund from the state. Therefore, it is bizarre that the Virginia Employment Commission/Commonwealth of Virginia would have no record of my employment for 2019.

    I appealed this decision on June 17, 2020 via VEC’s web site, via fax, and via mail (USPS) and, almost two months later, I have yet to hear from anyone at VEC with regard to the status of my appeal. I have also not been able to connect with anyone by phone or via chat on VEC’s web site. On July 28, 2020, I applied for Virginia’s Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and have yet to receive a response concerning my application.

    VEC has demonstrated VERY POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE and it is my hope that someone will finally follow-up with me.

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