Updated July 06, 2020
Within just a few months, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has emerged as a global pandemic, impacting lives and economies on scales rarely seen. Below, Forte Analytics has highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. health care system.
Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones impacted by this crisis, especially the hospitals, physicians, and long-term care providers serving on the front lines.
1-Month Change in U.S. Health Care Jobs:
Overall and Three Components Representing Ambulatory Health Care Services, Hospitals, and Nursing and Residential Care Facilities
Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, CES6562100001, CES6562200001, CES6562300001, Plus Sum of All Three Components
For years, the U.S. health care sector has demonstrated remarkable durability with respect to annual and monthly job growth and has weathered significant downturns, such as the Great Recession and other less impactful recessions. In fact, the resistance of this sector to job cuts during these downturns has led some to refer to it as a “recession-resistant” component of the U.S. economy.1 Unexpectedly, it appears that a global viral pandemic—a time of urgent need—will lay bare vulnerabilities underlying the U.S. health care system. The ongoing challenges in the health care sector first appeared as a crack in March 2020 (–40,000 jobs), followed by the opening of a chasm in April 2020 (–1.4 million jobs).
The monthly jobs report for May 2020 brings some good news. Broadly, the U.S. economy added more than 2.5 million payroll jobs and the unemployment rate dropped significantly. Within the health care sector, more than 300,000 workers returned to jobs in May. While this month’s increases were limited to the ambulatory health care services (AHCS) component, the pace of job losses slowed in the other two health care components, raising hopes of a rebound across all components in next month’s report.
The good employment news continued in June 2020, with the U.S. economy adding 4.8 million payroll jobs, as the unemployment rate fell to 11.1%. In health care, more than 350,000 jobs were added. By component, AHCS and hospitals both added jobs, while nursing and residential care facilities posted another monthly loss.
1 M.L. Dolfman, et al. Healthcare jobs and the Great Recession. Monthly Labor Review. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2018/article/healthcare-jobs-and-the-great-recession.htm. Accessed April 2020.
Top 20 Countries for Cumulative COVID-19 Case Counts, by Date
Data source: World Health Organization
Retrieved from https://covid19.who.int/
Accessed on July 04, 2020. (Data current as of July 04, 2020.)
As COVID-19 sweeps across the globe, governments at all levels—nation, state, and municipality—are reacting with varying speed and to varying degrees. As the threat of an outbreak increases, governments must make complex decisions, risking criticism for reacting either too aggressively or too slowly. The mathematics of pandemics is unforgiving, with early actions key to slowing or even halting the spread of the disease.1 As South Korea makes clear, recent experience with an outbreak can make government’s job easier.
In June 2020, the world’s efforts to contain COVID-19 remain mixed. While early success stories in South Korea and Hong Kong remain largely intact, new hot spots are emerging in countries with both large land masses and populations—such as Russia, India, and Brazil—highlighting the challenges of limiting the spread of the disease and raising fears of a second wave of infections along with the associated social, economic, and public health impacts to society.
1 Australian Academy of Sciences. The mathematics of social distancing. Retrieved from https://www.science.org.au/curious/people-medicine/mathematics-social-distancing. Accessed April 2020.