- Local pharmacies are being hit by the current labor shortage, too, per a new report.
- Industry body the NCPA said four in five pharmacies are struggling to fill open positions.
- Pharmacies are hiking up their wages to attract more workers – but they can’t raise prices to match.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Local pharmacies in the US are scrambling to find workers amid the labor shortage hitting industries, according to the country’s largest organization of independent pharmacy owners.
Four in five pharmacies are struggling to recruit enough workers to deliver prescriptions, handle patients, and run the cash register, according to a report by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).
“Finding qualified workers is tough under normal circumstances,” NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey said. “This is an acute problem for local pharmacies that should be at full strength now.”
Nearly 90% of the 278 respondents to the survey, conducted in late May, said they couldn’t find pharmacy technicians, and almost 60% said they struggled to recruit front-end employees to run the cash register, track inventory, and manage other basic store operations.
One in four said they couldn’t find delivery drivers, which the NCPA said was a “big problem” because most local pharmacies expanded their delivery services during the pandemic.
And one in eight said they’re struggling to hire staff pharmacists to actually handle both prescriptions and patients.
Other businesses are hiking up wages and benefits to attract more workers, and in return raising prices, but Hoey said that “it’s not that simple for pharmacies.”
More than 72% of survey respondents told the NCPA that they’re raising wages to attract workers, 56% are offering more flexible work hours, and more than 20% are increasing benefits.
But Hoey said that pharmacies couldn’t pass their rising prices onto customers because their reimbursements were controlled by pharmacy benefit managers.
“Their costs are going up. They can’t cut services. And their patients have never needed them more,” Hoey said.
The US Chamber of Commerce said Tuesday that the labor shortage was holding back the nation’s economic recovery from the pandemic, with some states and industries having fewer available workers than there are vacancies.
Uber and Lyft have struggled to find enough drivers, small-business owners fear they won’t be able to pay rent, and New York City restaurants could take months to find enough staff to function properly.
Bank of America expects the job market to recover by early 2022, while Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard said Tuesday that the worker shortage would likely fade by the fall as vaccination continues and the federal unemployment benefits lapse.