As the pandemic stretches on, demand for health care workers is still surging in Central Minnesota. In sum, there were 2,645 job vacancies for healthcare practitioners and technical and healthcare support workers in the second quarter of 2021.
That was more than double the number of openings compared to the second quarter of 2020 at the outset of the pandemic, and 700 more than the previous peak in 2016.
Hiring challenges have been steadily rising in recent years as health care employers have struggled to find enough workers to fill the growing number of positions available in the region; but this year demand is off the charts (see Figure 1).
The region saw a bigger increase in demand for healthcare support jobs over the year, but both saw new record high numbers of vacancies. Educational requirements varied greatly by occupation, with 86% of healthcare practitioner and technical openings requiring postsecondary education, compared to just 41% of healthcare support openings. Because of the higher requirements, wage offers were much higher for healthcare practitioners and technical, at $24.50, compared to $14.12 an hour for healthcare support occupations.
In practice, many of these healthcare support careers can be started with a high school diploma or less and some on-the-job training, primarily home health and personal care aides and nursing assistants.
Wage offers ranged between $13 and $15 for these jobs, which was up only slightly compared to the previous year. At a more detailed level, some healthcare support occupations that are in highest demand include:
Home Health and Personal Care Aides
818 vacancies, 70% part-time, 32% requiring postsecondary education, $13.14 wage offer
437 vacancies, 59% part-time, 61% requiring postsecondary education, $15.04 wage offer
61 vacancies, 40% part-time, 47% requiring postsecondary education, $17.67 wage offer
Demand was also rising rapidly for healthcare practitioners and technical positions, including:
513 vacancies, 26% part-time, 100% requiring postsecondary education, $25.90 wage offer
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses
217 vacancies, 51% part-time, 100% requiring postsecondary education, $20.40 wage offer
93 vacancies, 31% part-time, 24% requiring postsecondary education, $18.22 wage offer
Medical Records Specialists
40 vacancies, 52% part-time, 34% requiring postsecondary education, $19.10 wage offer
35 vacancies, 39% part-time, 100% requiring postsecondary education, $28.74 wage offer
Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics
24 vacancies, 60% part-time, 15% requiring postsecondary education, $18.85 wage offer
Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians
33 vacancies, 33% part-time, 57% requiring postsecondary education, $21.24 wage offer
31 vacancies, 28% part-time, 100% requiring postsecondary education, $31.66 wage offer
Job seekers who are interested in pursuing a health care career will require time and training; but may be able to start in some of the entry-level healthcare support occupations in the region and then move their way up the career ladder.
Many employers will even help pay for or provide the training to get workers into those jobs.
Luke Greiner is the Minnesota Department of of Employment and Economic Development’s regional labor market analyst for Central and Southwest Minnesota. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 320-308-5378.