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Connecticut health care sector jobs up in June, but still well below pre-pandemic levels

HARTFORD, CT - December 14, 2020: Hartford Healthcare nurse Marylou Oshana administers the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to patient care associate Jasmine Ortiz after the vaccine’s arrival at Hartford Hospital earlier in the morning. (Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public)
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
Hartford HealthCare nurse Marylou Oshana administers the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to patient care associate Jasmine Ortiz on Dec. 14, 2020, after the vaccine’s arrival at Hartford Hospital.

June marked the sixth consecutive month for job growth in Connecticut, with unemployment falling to 4%.

Even though the much-beleaguered health care sector added 600 jobs in June, staffing levels are way down compared to before the pandemic.

“It’s still inadequate,” said Wyatt Bosworth, assistant counsel for the Connecticut Business & Industry Association. “In February 2020, just one month before the pandemic, this sector had over 351,000 jobs that were filled. So to get back to pre-pandemic levels, we still need to see this sector hire an additional 15,000 workers.”

Bosworth said high burnout and high turnover among medical professionals are just part of the problem. The other is the difficulty in getting doctors from out of state to practice in Connecticut.

Another industry that’s faced staffing challenges: child care.The industry saw an increase of 600 jobs from June 2021. But child care centers must fill an additional 1,300 jobs to return to pre-pandemic levels, according to data from the state Department of Labor.

“The legislature passed $100 million this past legislative session in stabilization grants for the early childhood industry,” said Lauren Ruth, research and policy fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children. “However, the early care industry had put out that they needed $700 million just for stabilization to return to where they were pre-pandemic.”

Ruth said that as many as 173 early childhood centers closed in the past year, and June’s additional jobs indicate that some of these centers may be reopening. But there’s little money to attract and retain workers, she said.

Sujata Srinivasan is Connecticut Public Radio’s senior health reporter. Prior to that, she was a senior producer for Where We Live, a newsroom editor, and from 2010-2014, a business reporter for the station.

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