Cities with the most healthcare workers
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Cities with the most healthcare workers

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Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

The coronavirus outbreak has called into question the nation’s preparedness to respond to and mitigate health crises. As the number of presumptive and confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to increase, hospitals across the country face shortages of equipment, personnel, and beds. While the pandemic is highlighting shortcomings of the U.S. healthcare system overall, it is also evident that some parts of the country are better staffed with healthcare workers than others.

Despite current shortages, healthcare employment growth has actually outpaced the average across all workers for the past three decades. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), healthcare workers have experienced a cumulative 106 percent increase from 1990 to 2020, compared to a 40 percent increase for all workers over the same time period. Even without taking into account the recent outbreak, BLS projections indicate that employment in healthcare occupations will continue to grow much faster than the average for all occupations, mainly due to increased demand from an aging population.


Nationwide, there are 3.9 healthcare workers for every 100 residents. In Massachusetts, the density of healthcare workers is 5.06 per 100 residents, the highest in the country. But in Nevada, that number is just 2.94, the lowest in the country. Compared to the Northeast and Midwest, there is a shortage of healthcare workers in the South and West. Interestingly, these are regions where many older adults who require healthcare services choose to retire.


Similar trends exist at the local level. To identify which metropolitan areas have the most healthcare workers per capita, researchers at Self Financial analyzed statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau. Metros were ordered by the total number of healthcare workers employed per 100 residents. The total number of healthcare workers includes both practitioners (for example, physicians, surgeons, and registered nurses)   and healthcare support occupations (for example, home health aides, nursing assistants, and medical equipment preparers). To improve relevance, metros were categorized by population size:

  • Large metros: 1,000,000 residents or more
  • Midsize metros: 350,000-999,999 residents
  • Small metros: less than 350,000 residents

As with the statewide trends, the metropolitan areas with the most healthcare workers per capita tend to be located in the Midwest or the Northeast. The West and the South have a far lower density of healthcare workers.



Large Metros With the Most Healthcare Workers Per Capita

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1. Cleveland-Elyria, OH

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 5.34
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 109,860
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 74,970
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 34,890
  • Population: 2,057,009

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

2. Pittsburgh, PA

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 5.32
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 123,680
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 88,370
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 35,310
  • Population: 2,324,743

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

3. Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 5.23
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 255,150
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 181,080
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 74,070
  • Population: 4,875,390

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

4. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 4.96
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 101,500
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 74,760
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 26,740
  • Population: 2,048,428

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

5. Birmingham-Hoover, AL

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 4.95
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 56,960
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 42,910
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 14,050
  • Population: 1,151,801

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

6. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 4.93
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 77,680
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 56,170
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 21,510
  • Population: 1,576,113

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

7. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 4.89
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 298,120
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 196,170
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 101,950
  • Population: 6,096,372

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

8. St. Louis, MO-IL

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 4.85
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 136,120
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 95,170
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 40,950
  • Population: 2,804,724

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

9. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 4.74
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 132,790
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 93,450
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 39,340
  • Population: 2,802,789

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

10. Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 4.74
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 50,700
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 35,010
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 15,690
  • Population: 1,069,405

Large Metros With the Fewest Healthcare Workers Per Capita

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1. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 2.47
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 114,260
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 80,630
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 33,630
  • Population: 4,622,361

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

2. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 2.91
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 65,020
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 45,500
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 19,520
  • Population: 2,231,647

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

3. Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 3.11
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 72,980
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 50,490
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 22,490
  • Population: 2,345,210

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

4. Austin-Round Rock, TX

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 3.17
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 68,790
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 47,550
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 21,240
  • Population: 2,168,316

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

5. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 3.21
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 64,100
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 45,320
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 18,780
  • Population: 1,999,107

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

6. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 3.25
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 431,400
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 296,230
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 135,170
  • Population: 13,291,486

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

7. San Diego-Carlsbad, CA

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 3.27
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 109,350
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 76,290
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 33,060
  • Population: 3,343,364

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

8. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 3.31
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 156,320
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 112,170
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 44,150
  • Population: 4,729,484

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

9. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 3.31
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 196,930
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 139,190
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 57,740
  • Population: 5,950,828

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

10. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

  • Healthcare workers per 100 residents: 3.35
  • Total number of healthcare workers: 234,390
  • Number of healthcare practitioners: 168,220
  • Number of healthcare support workers: 66,170
  • Population: 6,997,384

Methodology & Detailed Findings

Across the U.S., there are 12.7 million healthcare workers. About two-thirds of these are categorized as “Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations” (such as doctors, nurses, and licensed therapists), while the rest are categorized as “Healthcare Support Occupations” (workers who assist healthcare practitioners). Interestingly, the breakdown between the two categories varies widely across locations. For example, in the New York-Newark-Jersey City metro, about 43 percent of healthcare workers are categorized as “Healthcare Support Occupations,” compared to 32 percent nationally.

Six of the top 10 large cities with the fewest healthcare workers per capita are located in California, one of the states most affected by the spread of COVID-19. As the nation grapples with containing the disease in the short run and looks ahead to the mass retirement of baby boomers in the long run, it is clear that additional healthcare support is needed and newly minted medical professionals should be incentivized to move to areas with significant shortages.

Statistics on healthcare workers is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics. Population statistics are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The total number of healthcare workers used in this report includes both “Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations” and “Healthcare Support Occupations.”

Metropolitan areas were ordered based on the total number of healthcare workers per 100 residents. In the event of a tie, the metro with the greater number of total healthcare workers was ranked higher. Additionally, metros were grouped into cohorts based on population size:  large metros (1,000,000 residents or more), midsize metros (350,000-999,999 residents), and small metros (less than 350,000 residents).

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