State and local public health agencies across the country have experienced substantial budget cuts over the past several years. In recent reports from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), over half of the country’s local health departments have experienced cutbacks in the past three years. In 2008, NACCHO reported that local health departments had lost 7,000 jobs through budget-related cuts, layoffs, position eliminations, and attrition. When combined with earlier NACCHO findings, this workforce loss results in a cumulative 23,000 jobs lost from 2008-2009, approximately 15 percent of the entire local health department workforce in the country. In 2009, an additional 25,000 local health department employees were affected by cuts in working hours or mandatory furloughs resulting from budget cuts. The Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) recently noted three public health workforce issues:
1. The US has an estimated 50,000 fewer public health workers than it did 20 years ago. As of 2008, twenty percent of the average state health agency’s workforce will be eligible to retire within three years, and by 2012, over 50 percent of some state health agency workforces will be eligible to retire.
2. The average age of new hires in state health agencies is 40.4
3. Four out of five (80%) current public health workers have not had formal training for their specific job functions.