Veterinary labor demand stays sturdy throughout COVID

The US veterinary market remains robust despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the national unemployment rate reached almost 15% in April and May, the veterinary profession actually saw a slight decrease in its unemployment rate from 0.8% in 2019 to 0.7% in 2020.

“The veterinary profession has been somewhat untouched by the pandemic,” noted Charlotte Hansen, assistant director of statistical analysis at AVMA, during her presentation at the annual AVMA business summit, which was held virtually October 26-28.

“We hear anecdotes that employers are busier than ever and they can’t find people to hire, and the AVMA Veterinary Career Center confirms that too,” said Hansen. “We’ve had a higher number of jobs in recent months than we did in 2019, and the unemployment rate from our veterinarian census is no different.”

There are five applicants for every open position in the US. As this graph shows, the demand for veterinary labor exceeds the current supply of veterinarians. (Enlarge)

The true unemployment rate among veterinarians represents those who are looking for work and cannot find it, said Hansen. The data also shows a decrease in those who sign up for further education and those who are not looking for work at all.

A second indicator of a strong veterinary labor market is the supply-to-demand ratio. Compared to the national average of approximately five applicants for each position, the AVMA Veterinary Career Center figures show that there are more veterinary positions than veterinarians filling them.

Veterinary income also increased in 2020, with the professional median income rising to approximately $ 120,000. “We also see differences between different types of practice,” said Hansen. “Let’s take a look at the feed animal exclusively for 2020.” The median income was $ 104,000, and most veterinarians reported having incomes between $ 60,000 and $ 150,000.

On average, forage and companion animal practitioners tend to have higher salaries than other types of private practices, Hansen said. In public practice, people in industry or in work for trade organizations and consultants have higher salaries on average.

Speaking of the veterinary profession demographics, Hansen said the median age is 46 and the profession is approaching 70% of women. In terms of ethnicity, 4% of veterinarians say they are Hispanic or Latino of origin. Regarding race, 92% of the profession is white while the remaining 8% are minority groups, including multiracial (4%), Asian (3%), and black (1%).

“Look in a mirror,” said Hansen. “Our profession does not imitate our people. It is important that we have a diverse profession to challenge ideas and ask new questions. “