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Skilled nursing facilities and continuing care retirement / life plan communities “are still well off the pace needed to reach a full post-pandemic recovery” in terms of their workforces, according to a new report from Fitch Ratings.

Efforts that such providers might focus on to increase the talent pool, Director Richard Park said in a press release  issued in conjunction with the company’s latest labor tracker report for the sector, include “a combination of externally focused initiatives to increase career pathways and recruit potential employees from other industries and countries as well as internally focused initiatives to improve the quality of the work environment, workplace culture and employee training and development.”

Payrolls in both CCRCs and SNFs have increased for 14 and 24 consecutive months, respectively, he said, but the numbers still are approximately 6% and 8% below pre-pandemic levels, respectively. The labor tracker noted that private-sector and assisted living community payrolls are approximately 6% and 4% above pre-pandemic levels, respectively.

The number of job openings in skilled nursing and CCRCs remains high compared with pre-pandemic times. Park said that the ongoing labor shortage “will take time to remedy.”

Average hourly earnings growth for CCRC, assisted living community and SNF employees has declined, averaging 5.5%, 3.8% and 4.1% in year-over-year growth, respectively, from March 2023 to February 2024, according to the report.

Quit rates in CCRCs, assisted living and SNFs have declined from a peak of 2.9% in May 2023 to 2.1% as of February 2024. Those rates still are high, according to Fitch, compared with a 1.6% sector average from 2010 through 2019.

The full report is available on the Fitch Ratings website