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CVS Health preparing for ‘flu season’ by increasing hiring

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CVS Health will increase hiring for seasonal and year-round positions in its chain of more than 8,000 pharmacies in an effort to be ready for the “flu season” next month, according to documents posted on a government website for job and training sites.

The 15,000 seasonal hires will be increased to 43,000 employees in full-time and part-time positions. Some of the seasonal employees will also work alongside the full-time staff to make sure it maintains its current quality and scope of operations, the company said.

CVS Health’s move to increase employment at its clinics, discount drug stores and full-service pharmacies come at a time when the U.S. labor market remains tight. Companies in the retail and health care industries have been able to expand hiring ahead of key holiday sales periods because they are unable to find workers with the necessary skills. Workers with healthcare-related skills have also been hard to find, as a shortage of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel has been happening for some time.

Overall, about 31 million jobs have remained open during the last four years as high-skilled, low-paid positions have remained vacant and the share of workers with college degrees has risen, said Patrick O’Keefe, head of economic research at CohnReznick, a consultancy firm in Philadelphia.

“We have robust labor markets right now in many areas,” Mr. O’Keefe said. “There’s very low unemployment, it’s between 4 percent and 4.3 percent. That’s favorable and it’s going to be challenging for companies that aren’t able to increase their productivity, to make their sales targets.”

CVS Health on Friday already announced plans to hire 6,000 workers for the “peak season,” which falls at the beginning of the year, to help them cover the winter holidays.

Health care workers have increasingly sought out jobs in fast-growing industries, and as health care companies fill vacancies, they need to find workers with the skills they need to do the work. While overall jobs in the health care sector have grown faster than other industries over the last few years, a shortage of medical and nursing professionals has been reported. According to Forbes magazine, doctor shortages have become the “most acute in a quarter-century.”

CVS Health, whose pharmacy locations have locations in suburbs and small towns, also has recently sought to expand its workforce in areas of the country where it doesn’t have existing pharmacies. The company closed 15 of its pharmacy locations in Colorado in September in order to expand its location in and around Denver.

“Our Medical, Pharmacy, Front Office, Home Care and Accountant teams are pleased to report that we’re so many years into our $2.5 billion improvement of CVS Health,” David Denton, CVS Health’s chief financial officer, wrote in a company blog post in August. “We’re on track to finish 2019 with another record year in terms of revenue growth and operating cash flow.”

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