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Health Agencies Update
June 18, 2003

Hair Trigger?

JAMA. 2003;289(23):3080. doi:10.1001/jama.289.23.3080-a

By 2050, the United States will need three times the current number of long-term health care workers, according to a new report from the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

As baby boomers retire, grow old, and become ill, the shortage will become increasingly acute. In 2050, about 6 million nurses, nurse aids, and home health care specialists will be needed, compared with 1.9 million in 2000.

The report calls the need to retain current workers and attract new workers "critical," and proposes a variety of state and local initiatives that increase the recruitment and retention of direct care workers. It also urges continued support for existing federal programs, such as DOL's National Emphasis Program and DHHS's Nursing Workforce Diversity Program. The report is available online at http://aspe.hhs.gov/daltcp/reports/ltcwork.htm.

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