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Nearly half of local health departments lost skilled workers in the second half of 2009 – threatening essential services.
A just-completed analysis of a new survey on local health department job losses illustrates the uphill battle that local health departments continue to fight as they struggle to keep Americans safe and provide basic disease prevention and emergency preparedness services in the face of budget cuts.
The full report, which expands on preliminary survey results released by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) in March, found that from January 2008 to December 2009, local health departments lost 23,000 jobs to layoffs and attrition, roughly 15 percent of the entire local health department workforce.
In the last six months of 2009, nearly half of local health departments (46 percent) lost the skilled people needed to protect the health of people in their communities, according to the NACCHO survey.
When put in context of population, these job losses appear even more severe: Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of the U.S. population lives in jurisdictions of local health departments that lost staff between June and December 2009. Nationwide, the median number of local health department employees is only 18, illustrating the significance of even one lost job.
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