The COVID-19 pandemic has precipitated extraordinary challenges for hospitals and health systems and the communities they serve. As of February 2022, there have been nearly 80 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, over 900,000 reported deaths from COVID-19, and over 4.5 million inpatient admissions with COVID-19 in the United States. Since the onset of the pandemic hospitals and health systems have stood on the front lines in caring for America’s communities. In 2020, our hospital and health system workers treated 123 million people in emergency departments, provided 594 million outpatient visits, performed 25 million surgeries and delivered over 3.5 million babies. It has never been more apparent than during the ongoing pandemic that America’s hospitals and health systems are cornerstones in the communities they serve.
The role hospitals and health systems have played in providing health care to their communities — though vital — is only part of the story. With the pandemic devastating local economies, hospitals and health systems have been economic pillars that create jobs and purchase goods and services from others in their community. In 2020, hospitals:
- Employed 6.3 million individuals. (see Figure 1).
- Purchased more than $1.1 trillion in goods and services from other businesses.
The goods and services hospitals purchase from other businesses create additional economic value for the community. When you add in these “ripple effects,” each hospital job supports nearly two additional jobs. Moreover, every dollar spent by a hospital supports $2.30 of additional business activity. Overall, hospitals in 2020:
- Supported 17.6 million total jobs – roughly one out of eight jobs in the U.S. (see Figure 2).
- Supported $3.6 trillion in economic activity.
Throughout the pandemic, hospitals have continued to face a range of financial and operational pressures, with workforce-related challenges among those most critical. As the omicron variant has surged, close to one-fourth of hospitals reporting data on staffing to the federal government have indicated that they are anticipating a critical staffing shortage. These workforce shortages have placed hospitals under enormous economic pressure to meet the demands created by the pandemic, and highlight the need to develop and implement longer-term solutions.
For more information on workforce resources by the AHA, please visit: aha.org/workforce-home.
This page includes data on the number and types of jobs hospitals provide, as well as their contribution to the U.S. economy.