News & Commentary

Demand will grow for lower-skilled health care workers

Though doctor and nursing shortages usually get the attention, Mercer’s analysis shows that hospitals and other health care organizations should brace for a shortage of lower-skilled health care workers, such as home health aides, nursing assistants, and clinical and lab technologists. “Americans are getting older and less active, driving more of a need for home health and personal care aides across the country,” the analysis states. The gap between supply and demand is expected to be the largest for home health aides.

Health care organizations might have to compete against the retail industry, which offers better pay to lower-skilled workers. In the meantime, the pay for nursing assistants, home health aides, and personal aides “has stagnated at $10.11, a few cents lower than a decade ago, making recruitment more difficult,” according to Mercer.

Health care occupations with projected supply gaps through 2025
Occupation Growth New job openings by 2025 Expected workforce gap by 2025
Home health aides 32% 423,200 –446,300
Nursing assistants 16% 407,396 –95,000
Medical and clinical lab technologists 13% 49,400 –58,700
Medical and lab technicians 18% 60,717 –40,000
Nurse practitioners 30% 51,445 –29,400
Physicians and surgeons, all other 16% 102,970 –11,000
Source: Mercer, “Demand for Healthcare Workers Will Outpace Supply by 2025: An Analysis of the U.S. Healthcare Labor Market,” May 2018