Giving Compass' Take:

• Despite COVID-19 causing massive layoffs, the health care sector still needs more workers and is calling for retired medical professions to help respond to this crisis. 

• What other solutions are there for the limited amount of health care workers? 

•  Studies show that doctors and nurses treating COVID-19 patients are experiencing mental health issues. 

Social distancing, school and daycare closures, and measures to protect those people most at-risk limit the pool of workers firms can draw upon. How important will these constraints become, especially in essential industries?

To find out, researchers looked at data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, the American Community Survey, and the National Health and Interview Survey.

“To minimize the spread of the pandemic, state governments are increasingly restricting who can work outside the home to workers in essential industries. Roughly 60% of employment is in these industries,” says Fabian Lange, a professor of economics at McGill University and Canada Research Chair in Labour and Personnel Economics.

“Reducing the strain on the health care workforce will be essential as they stand on the front lines of the battle against the pandemic.”

An important factor limiting the labor supply of people who can work outside the home is childcare, researchers say. School and daycare closures have made it substantially more difficult for some employees to go to work. Because of social distancing, grandparents, friends, and neighbors are less able to pick up any of the slack.

Roughly a quarter of the US workforce has young children at home and may therefore be constrained from full-time work.

“Another limiting factor on labor supply could be attempts to limit outside contact for members of the household who are most at-risk. At-risk populations include those aged 65 and over, people with compromised immune systems, and people with underlying medical conditions,” Lange says.

About one-fifth of the workforce is in an at-risk group or lives with someone who is more likely to suffer severe consequences from COVID-19. In health care, 25% of workers fall into this category.

Overall, 18.5 million essential (non-health) workers and 4.6 million health care workers fit into a high-risk group that limits their ability to participate in the labor force in order to protect themselves or a family member with underlying conditions.

Read the full article about health care workers need help by Shirley Cardenas at Futurity.