MONDAY, March 7, 2022 (HealthDay News) — There were considerable declines in employment at skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) during 2020 and 2021, which were positively associated with the severity of COVID-19 burden, according to a research letter published online Feb. 25 in JAMA Health Forum.

Jonathan Cantor, Ph.D., from the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, and colleagues quantified changes in employment and average wages of employees of six key health care organizations during 2020 and the first six months of 2021.

The researchers observed a 5.2 percent decline in health care employment levels, from 22.2 million in 2019 to 21.1 million in 2020-quarter 2 (Q2) compared with a 9.0 percent decline in all industries, followed by a considerable rebound to 21.8 million in 2021-Q2. The decline in employment varied by type of health care organization, with the largest declines seen for offices of dentists and SNFs in 2020-Q2 (10.0 and 8.4 percent, respectively). The employment level of most health care sectors rebounded to pre-COVID-19 levels in 2021-Q2; however, in employment among SNFs, more declines were seen (13.6 percent decline compared with 2019). A significant and positive association was seen between the COVID-19 burden and 12-month percent change in employment levels among SNFs; relative to 2019, the adjusted 2020 employment level in SNFs was 105.2 percent in counties with the lowest quintile of COVID-19 cases and 90.4 percent among counties with the top 20 percent burden.

“We found substantial employment declines among SNFs, which were more severe in counties with high COVID-19 burden,” the authors write.

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