Boston Business Journal, October 2021
Hospital systems have struggled for months in the face of nurse shortages and a shrinking workforce, and a new state report aims to explain the root cause of the problem. The report from the Project on Workforce at Harvard, convened by the Baker administration, suggests that the pandemic disrupted clinical placements and delayed licensing exams, constraining the supply of new nurses and direct care workers like home health aids to the state. Also, retirements accelerated, as aging health care staff confronted the risks of work. The report looked from the spring and summer of 2020 to evaluate the changes, challenges and disruptions in the health care market prompted by the pandemic, with a focus on nursing, direct care workers and those in behavioral health.
Compared to the state’s overall labor market, health care workers are disproportionately female (77%), people of color (30%) and immigrants (23%). Other pandemic-related disruptions that particularly affected health care workers, such as childcare, may have played a part in workplace turnover.
“Childcare is a critical piece of our economic infrastructure that enables parents to get to work just like roads and bridges do for commuters,” said Alicia Sasser Modestino, associate professor of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, and Department of Economics at Northeastern University, in the report. “The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the previously invisible link between childcare and the economy, causing employers to come up with new solutions to support working parents, especially front-line workers such as in health care.”