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COVID & Unemployment

Despite the pandemic, some jobs in health care have declined

Andy Uhler Oct 8, 2020
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Win McNamee/Getty Images
COVID & Unemployment

Despite the pandemic, some jobs in health care have declined

Andy Uhler Oct 8, 2020
Heard on:
Win McNamee/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The latest weekly unemployment insurance claims numbers out Thursday show another 840,000 people applied for benefits last week. One of the sectors that has seen job losses, even during a pandemic, is health care.

It might seem logical that in a pandemic, demand for health care workers would be up. But Ani Turner, co-director of sustainable health spending strategies at the Altarum Institute, a nonprofit that tracks health care spending and employment, said some people have been avoiding going to the doctor since March.

“It’s a combination of less care being provided of certain types,” she said.

Care like elective surgeries, which often pay the bills, and some people are just choosing to not have them.

“So you need fewer staff and big revenue hits,” Turner said.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week that the health care industry gained more than 100,000 jobs in September. But the sector is still down about 800,000 jobs from this time last year, according to Amitabh Chandra, professor of public policy at Harvard University. He said some of those jobs just won’t be coming back.

“We will figure out, as a result of the pandemic, some of those jobs were not necessary,” Chandra said.

Specifically, he pointed to some support and administrative positions, especially with more people using telemedicine. 

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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