The State of the US Public Health Workforce: Ongoing Challenges and Future Directions

Jonathon P. Leider, Valerie A. Yeager, Chelsey Kirkland, Heather Krasna, Rachel Hare Bork, Beth Resnick

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Between the 2009 Great Recession and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US state and local governmental public health workforce lost 40,000 jobs. Tens of thousands of workers also left during the pandemic and continue to leave. As governmental health departments are now receiving multimillion-dollar, temporary federal investments to replenish their workforce, this review synthesizes the evidence regarding major challenges that preceded the pandemic and remain now. These include the lack of the field's ability to readily enumerate and define the governmental public health workforce as well as challenges with the recruitment and retention of public health workers. This review finds that many workforce-related challenges identified more than 20 years ago persist in the field today. Thus, it is critical that we look back to be able to then move forward to successfully rebuild the workforce and assure adequate capacity to protect the public's health and respond to public health emergencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-341
Number of pages19
JournalAnnual Review of Public Health
StatePublished - Apr 3 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Annual Reviews Inc.. All rights reserved.


  • enumeration
  • public health workforce
  • recruitment
  • retention
  • training
  • workforce development


Dive into the research topics of 'The State of the US Public Health Workforce: Ongoing Challenges and Future Directions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this