Florida Below Average in Healthcare Worker Numbers

Staff Report
BRADENTON — COVID-19 is straining healthcare systems worldwide, and some states are more prepared than others. A new report shows that despite its high population of elderly and infirm, Florida has less healthcare workers per capita than most other states.

In Florida, there are 785,060 total healthcare workers, which amounts to 3.69 for every 100 residents. Florida's number of healthcare workers per capita is below the national average of 3.90.

The coronavirus outbreak has called into question the nation’s preparedness to respond to and mitigate health crises. As the number of presumptive and confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to increase, hospitals across the country face shortages of equipment, personnel, and beds. 

While the pandemic is highlighting shortcomings of the U.S. healthcare system overall, it is also evident that some parts of the country are better staffed with healthcare workers than others with the Northeast and upper Midwest leading.

Despite current shortages, healthcare employment growth has actually outpaced the average across all workers for the past three decades. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), healthcare workers have experienced a cumulative 106 percent increase from 1990 to 2020, compared to a 40 percent increase for all workers over the same time period. 

Even without taking into account the recent outbreak, BLS projections indicate that employment in healthcare occupations will continue to grow much faster than the average for all occupations, mainly due to increased demand from an aging population.