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Despite Looming Shortage of State and Local Public Health Workers, Americans Confident Governments are Prepared to Deal with Public Health Threats
Date:3/13/2008

New Center for Excellence Poll Highlights Gaps in Safety Net; Need to

Cultivate Talent to Fill Critical Public Health Positions

WASHINGTON, March 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Most Americans are unaware that state and local public health departments are facing a serious shortage of skilled professionals that could put the health and lives of citizens at risk, says a poll released today by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence.

Retirement rates are projected at 50 percent by 2012 in some public health agencies, yet only one in three Americans see this as a major problem for state governments, and only a quarter see this as a problem for local government, finds the poll conducted for the Center by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

"We count on public health professionals to prevent the spread of disease, protect us from bioterrorist threats, make sure our food is safe to eat, and our air is safe to breathe," says Elizabeth Kellar, executive director of the Center for State and Local Government Excellence. "Those closest to the public health infrastructure know that the safety net is fragile. The public sector workforce is older than the private sector's, and state and local governments are facing their greatest turnover ever. Vacancy rates are up to 25 percent in some public health agencies, so there is no time to lose in addressing these workforce needs."

The poll of 1,200 adults probed the public's views of state and local government, including whether they find careers in government attractive. The findings show that Americans see working for state and local governments as a real possibility in the future. One in five workers is very interested in taking a job at some point with state and local governments. The numbers are even higher within specific areas of public health. Two thirds are interested in working in a hospital or other public health organization, while nearly 30 percent say they are ve
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SOURCE Center for State and Local Government Excellence
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