Changes in Public Health Workforce Composition: Proportion of Part-Time Workforce and Its Correlates, 2008-2013

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American Journal of Preventative Medicine




Background: State and local public health department infrastructure in the U.S. was impacted by the 2008 economic recession. The nature and impact of these staffing changes have not been well characterized, especially for the part-time public health workforce.

Purpose: To estimate the number of part-time workers in state and local health departments (LHDs) and examine the correlates of change in the part-time LHD workforce between 2008 and 2013.

Methods: We used workforce data from the 2008 and 2013 National Association of County and City Health Officials (n¼1,543) and Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (n¼24) profiles. We employed a Monte Carlo simulation to estimate the possible and plausible proportion of the workforce that was part-time, over various assumptions. Next, we employed a multinomial regression assessing correlates of the change in staffing composition among LHDs, including jurisdiction and organizational characteristics, as well measures of community involvement.

Results: Nationally representative estimates suggest that the local public health workforce decreased from 191,000 to 168,000 between 2008 and 2013. During that period, the part-time workforce decreased from 25% to 20% of those totals. At the state level, part-time workers accounted for less than 10% of the total workforce among responding states in 2013. Smaller and multi-county jurisdictions employed relatively more part-time workers.

Conclusions: This is the first study to create national estimates regarding the size of the part-time public health workforce and estimate those changes over time. A relatively small proportion of the public health workforce is part-time and may be decreasing.


This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license. Article obtained for the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.