The Impact of COVID-19 on Salary & Staffing

By Edna Garcia and Iman Kundu - July 05, 2023

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In 2022, the American Society for Clinical Pathology conducted a survey on the impact of COVID-19 in laboratories to determine salaries and staffing two years after the height of the pandemic. This survey collected five times more responses than the 2020 survey, allowing for more robust data on what is impacting the pathology and medical laboratory space today.1,2

Here are some of the insights and highlights from the survey.

The use of contract staff has increased to 66% in 2022, up from 51% in 2020.1,2
80% of respondents
indicated that their
laboratory experienced
issues with recruiting staff
in the past 12 months.

COVID-19-caused recruiting issues:

  • Lack of qualified candidates
  • Low salary
  • Competition from other facilities
  • Difficulties hiring for certain shifts (evening, night, weekend)
  • HR-related issues, onboarding, and/or immigration-related issues
  • COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy
  • COVID-19 related factors (stress, fear of exposure, hiring freeze)
  • Location of the facility as a deterrent (usually in rural areas)
  • Lack of understanding and support from the administration/ management regarding laboratory needs

More than half of respondents reported ongoing difficulties obtaining supplies, with a 15% increase in labs experiencing supply issues since 2020.4,5

Even with the
highlight of the
profession during the
pandemic, more than
70% of respondents
reported that there
has been no change
in their salary.

For many of the study participants, staff well-being offerings are also an important retention strategy that is most of the time overlooked.

In the past, ASCP data have shown reports of strategies on recruitment both in laboratory training programs and employment but there is no extensive list of strategies when it comes to retaining laboratory professionals currently working. We suggested, in our past reports, that both recruitment and retention require the same focus and effort. Some of these strategies might include:

  • Retention bonuses
  • Salary increases, incentive pay
  • Critical pay, “pandemic pay”
  • Overtime and bonuses
  • Flexible hours/schedule

A collective effort by numerous levels and groups of stakeholders, including the laboratory employers, laboratory training programs, and professional organizations is needed in order for the laboratory to continue providing high-quality care to patients. To that end, ASCP launched the Workforce Steering Committee in February 2022, which is taking an active role in initiating discussions and implementing strategies to increase visibility of the laboratory.

ASCP also established the Medical and Public Health Laboratory Coalition, a partner organization that fosters collaborative workforce solutions to address the challenges and needs facing the U.S. medical and public health laboratory workforce. The core goals of the Coalition include focusing on increasing the visibility of laboratory occupations; expanding and improving workforce recruitment, development, and retention; and increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the laboratory.


  1. American Society for Clinical Pathology. Laboratory staffing data during COVID-19 pandemic. Accessed October 29, 2020. ISTP/ASCP_Covid-19_data_web.pdf
  2. Garcia E, Kundu I. Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on medical laboratory staffing. Default. 2021. covid-19pandemic-on-medicallaboratory-staffing. Accessed March 16, 2023.
  3. Garcia E, Kundu I, Kelly M, Soles R, Mulder L, Talmon GA. The American Society for Clinical Pathology's Job Satisfaction, Well-Being, and Burnout Survey of Laboratory Professionals. Am J Clin Pathol. 2020;153(4):470-486. doi:10.1093/ajcp/aqaa008
  4. Hilborne L, Sossaman G, Caldwell B, Kroft S. Laboratory Supply Shortages. American Journal of Clinical Pathology. doi/10.1093/ajcp/aqac035/6539925. Published 2022. Accessed March 16, 2023.
  5. Hilborne L, Garcia E, Kundu I. Laboratory Supply Chain Shortage Effects on Laboratory Workforce and Effective Test Utilization. Default. 2022. criticalvalues. org/news/all/2022/05/10/laboratory-supply-chainshortage- effects-onlaboratory-workforce-andeffective- test-utilization. Accessed March 16, 2023.

Edna Garcia and Iman Kundu

ASCP research and analytics