Labor Shortage Affecting Local Pharmacies

Published - Written by Jennifer Barrett

The national labor shortage is affecting independent pharmacies that are struggling with hiring employees, according to the results of a new survey released by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).1

The survey was conducted from May 26 to May 28, 2021, among approximately 8000 pharmacy owners and managers.1

From the 278 responses collected1:

  • Eighty percent of respondents reported difficulty filling open positions.
  • Nearly 90% are unable to find pharmacy technicians.
  • Nearly 60% are unable to find front-end employees to run the cash register, track inventory, and manage other basic store operations.
  • Twenty-five percent can’t find delivery drivers.
  • More than 13% are struggling to hire staff pharmacists.

Labor shortages are also increasing wages and benefits, which presents a challenge to small local pharmacies. According to the survey findings, more than 72% of respondents indicated they are raising wages to attract workers, whereas 56% are offering more flexible work hours and more than 20% are increasing benefits.1

“Their costs are going up. They can’t cut services. And their patients have never needed them more,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, MBA, RPh.2

Local pharmacies are experiencing high demand currently because of the pandemic and COVID-19 immunizations, which makes staffing a crucial issue. Moreover, the inability to hire workers for newly expanded services, such as delivery options, creates barriers to patient access.

Hoey noted that legislators should focus on protections for small businesses such as independent pharmacies during this time.2 

“One thing Congress can do immediately is clarify the Payroll Protection Program, which allowed many pharmacies to keep their workers at the onset of the pandemic,” said Hoey.2 “There’s a lot of confusion about whether they have to pay back the loans, even though they followed the program. The uncertainty creates additional pressure.”


  1. Report for labor shortage survey. National Community Pharmacists Association. June 2021. Accessed June 16, 2021.
  2. Tight Labor Market Squeezing Local Pharmacies, Survey Shows. News release. National Community Pharmacists Association; June 2, 2021. Accessed June 16, 2021.


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Jennifer Barrett, Senior Editor

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