Healthcare staff shortages projected for every state by 2026: 4 report findings

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The healthcare labor market is expected to face shortages over the next five to 10 years as the U.S. continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Mercer’s "2021 External Healthcare Labor Market Analysis."

The report examined healthcare labor statistics during the next five to 10 years in every state and at county, state, regional and national levels. 

Four main findings: 

1.There will be a shortage of labor at the low end of the wage spectrum, limiting access to home care.

  • About 9.7 million individuals currently work in lower-wage healthcare positions with the need in the next five years rising to 10.7 million.
  • Trends project 6.5 million employees will permanently leave their positions by 2026 with 1.9 million people replacing them. 
  • New York and California will have the largest labor shortages, each projected to fall short by 500,000 by 2026.

2. Primary care will increasingly be provided by non-physicians. 

  • Twenty-one percent of family medicine, pediatric, OB/GYN and other primary care physicians are expected to retire.
  • Demand for primary care physicians is projected to grow by 4 percent during the same time period, causing a shift toward other clinicians providing the care.

3. There will be shortages of nurses in the majority of the states, but surplus in some areas of the South and Southwest.

  • Demand for nurses is set to grow 5 percent in the next five years.
  • More than 900,000 nurses will leave, causing employers to need to hire 1.1 million more by 2026.
  • The report projects 29 will be unable to fill demands.

4. There will be a six-figure hiring rush for mental health professionals by 2026. 

  • A 10 percent increase in demand for mental health workers by 2026 is projected. 
  • The report projects 27 will be unable to fill hiring demands.


You can read the full report here.

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