Will nursing homes finally get a lucky break?

It’s a weird thing to find yourself becoming a cheerleader for higher unemployment.

But the news last week that new unemployment filings climbed to their highest level in three months could be very good news indeed for the skilled nursing sector.

A downturn in hiring in other sectors has often been viewed as a way to fuel nursing home and other healthcare recruitment, and if there’s ever a time it’s been needed, this is it. Facing a federal staffing mandate that seems to give only a cursory nod to the challenging job market, providers need relief like a big, fat turkey needs a pardon this week.

That’s exactly why a morning news show piece on retail sales for Black Friday caught my attention, too. Retailers, it appears, are stepping back on their seasonal hiring, meaning even more folks might be looking for alternative work options.

Last year, a group of about a dozen major retailers hired nearly 600,000 workers for the season; this year that’s down to a projected 553,000, according to tracking data cited by Retail Dive.

This is all because some employers are predicting fewer sales this holiday season. On top of that, inflation has fallen back to a more reasonable rate, which analysts at Challenger, Gray & Christmas say means companies have less ability to pass on extra staffing costs through higher product prices. The trend at the dozen companies named likely stops there, as others face a similar hesitance to overspend on additional workers.

Yes, lower hiring in general is good for long-term care, but fewer retail jobs whose hourly pay has outpaced some entry-level nursing home positions lately? Well, that would be even better news.

Would it be too much to call it an early holiday gift? Not if those would-be workers came knocking at your doors or websites instead of heading to your non-healthcare competitors’ winter wonderlands.

Several strong economic factors are lining up at the right time, at least temporarily, for skilled nursing and other aging services providers. Hiring could get a boost, at a time when inflation is cooling. Together, that could unwind some of the incessant, upward pressure on wages.

Add in the fact that the slowing labor market might convince federal banking officials not to make another rate hike, and that could mean providers will see their cost of borrowing start to moderate, and potentially fall in the New Year.

It’s OK for nursing home operators to hope they finally get their slice of the pie this fall.

Just be ready to respond quickly to job candidates when they do show up or inquire online so that you find yourself in a better staffing position heading into 2024.

That’s a far better strategy than relying on a lucky wishbone to get you through.

KIMBERLY MARSELAS. (2023, November 21). Will nursing homes finally get a lucky break?. Retrieved from https://www.mcknights.com/daily-editors-notes/will-nursing-homes-finally-get-a-lucky-break/