Record number of healthcare workers laid off, furloughed during pandemic

A record number of nurses and healthcare workers have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic as hospitals halted revenue-generating elective surgeries and routine procedures, according to Newsweek.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare lost 1.4 million jobs in April. Most of those job losses were in ambulatory healthcare services and included offices of dentists (503,300), offices of physicians (243,300), and offices of other healthcare practitioners (205,100). However, 134,900 of the April job losses were in hospitals.

The federal government has distributed more than $70 billion in COVID-19 relief aid to hospitals and other healthcare providers since April. However, even with the grants, many hospitals still face losses due to temporarily suspending nonemergent procedures.

Overall, the American Hospital Association estimates U.S. hospitals and health systems will lose $202.6 billion over a four-month period from March 1 to June 30, or $50.7 billion on average per month.

Therefore, many hospitals have had to prioritize cost reduction, including layoffs and furloughs. As of May 28, at least 266 hospitals had furloughed staff to remain financially stable during the pandemic, although some hospitals have started to bring furloughed workers back amid the process of resuming procedures. 

There have been more positive trends recently, however, reflecting "a limited resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April due to the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to contain it," the Labor Department said June 5 in the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The U.S. added 2.5 million jobs in May after losing close to 21 million jobs in April, and the unemployment rate declined to 13.3 percent, compared to 14.7 percent in April, according to the bureau.

Healthcare added 312,400 jobs in May, primarily in ambulatory healthcare services, while job losses at hospitals continued. Still, hospitals lost fewer jobs — 26,700 last month, compared to the 134,900 positions they lost in April. 


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