When looking at the pandemic’s effect on the local job market, new analysis provided by Jacksonville State University’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research offers some insight into how the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus has affected the demand for nurses.

The profession of nursing is also of particular interest locally as Northeast Alabama Community College’s Health Sciences Division offers an acclaimed nursing program, led by Myrna Williamson, EdD, MSN, RN.

The analysis of the healthcare job market before and during the pandemic is based on total job advertisements posted by occupation and location within 11 North Alabama counties for selected health care categories. They looked at help wanted ads for registered nurses, nursing assistants, medical assistants, home health aides, personal care aides, and critical care nurses.

Associate Professor of Finance Benjamin B. Boozer, who edited the report for JSU’s School of Business and Industry, wrote, “Health Care activity is a function of both societal trends of an aging population, but also is currently affected by coronavirus issues and subsequent need for higher levels of health care provisions.”

The total number of health care job advertisements in DeKalb County swelled by 57% comparing figures for Nov. 2019-Jan. 2020 with Nov. 2020-Jan. 2021. The largest fourth quarter increase by occupation was for registered nurses and nursing assistants, with postings of 15 and eight additional advertisements, respectively.

As one might expect during a pandemic, increases were recorded in different parts of the county, with 19 additional job advertisements listed in Fort Payne, and a 133% increase in postings in Henagar. Rainsville experienced an increase in four advertisements during the reporting period. The month of December experienced not only the largest number of job postings, but also the largest numerical and percent increase from 2019-2021. Seventeen additional job advertisements were posted in December with changes for November and January recorded as increases of 10 and four advertisements, respectively.

The unemployment rate for the state of Alabama decreased from 5.7% to 4.4% for the October to November 2020 period. Unemployment peaked at 13.8% in April 2020 as layoffs increased from coronavirus pandemic effects.

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