The Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) today released its 2023 Health Care Workforce Report, which highlights data trends and analysis of Wisconsin’s health care workforce. According to this year’s report, as Wisconsin’s aging population continued to depart the workforce, high job vacancy rates persisted as demand for care grew in 2022 putting further strain on the health care workforce to grow at a fast rate.

“Wisconsin hospitals are working hard to grow, recruit, retain and support the health care workforce necessary to sustain the high-quality health care Wisconsin citizens expect and deserve,” said WHA Senior Vice President of Workforce and Clinical Practice Ann Zenk. “But even with concerted effort, it is unlikely that the health care workforce can grow fast enough to meet the rising health care demand of an aging population.”

The report underscores the dual impact on health care of the aging, very large baby boom generation–the so- called “Silver Tsunami.” By 2030, one in five Americans will be at retirement age. In Wisconsin, it’s closer to one in four. The surge in retirements is a demographic force impacting all industries. Health care faces an additional challenge because health care needs grow as individuals age. Those over the age of 65 make up 20 percent of the population but account for more than 40 percent of health care utilization. Conversely, those younger than 35 make up more than 40 percent of the population, but account for less than 20 percent of health care demand. The last of the baby boom generation turns 65 in 2032, and while the surge of retirements will subside for other industries, the Silver Tsunami’s impact on health care demand and the health care workforce will persist for decades to come.

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