The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on healthcare worker availability nationwide, especially among lower-wage healthcare workers. By 2026, only three states are expected to have a surplus of lower-wage employees, according to Mercer's most recent "U.S. Healthcare Labor Market" report.
Mercer created metrics around labor supply, labor demand, retirement risk, and other demographic factors relevant to evaluating and projecting labor market conditions in the future. Labor demand was projected using historic trends nationally adjusted for state economic development forecasts. Read more about the methodology here.
Examples of lower-wage healthcare workers included in the forecast are medical assistants, home health aides and nursing assistants.
The only states projected to have a surplus are Washington, Georgia and South Carolina, which are predicted to have surpluses of 168,227, 67,503 and 27 workers, respectively.
Tennessee and Florida are expected to have the lowest lower-wage healthcare worker deficits of any state, with deficits of -11,321 and -57,884.
The five states that are predicted to have the largest gaps include Illinois (-169,080), Massachusetts (-200,757), Pennsylvania (-277,711), California (-557,535) and New York (-673,471).