To provide an overview of budget cuts, job losses, and program reductions among local health departments (LHDs) and to examine the association between LHD infrastructure characteristics and the likelihood of budget cuts.
Data from 4 waves of the economic surveillance survey (July-August 2009, September-November 2010, January-February 2012, and January-March 2013) conducted by the National Association of County & City Health Officials were analyzed to assess cuts to budgets, jobs, and programs since 2009. Data from the 2013 National Profile of Local Health Departments survey were used to assess the infrastructural characteristics associated with budget cuts.
When asked in early 2013, more than a quarter of LHDs (26.9%) reported a reduced budget, continuing the trend of a substantial proportion of LHDs experiencing financial hardship in recent years. The percentages of LHDs that made cuts to programmatic areas fluctuated from year to year but have never been lower than 40%. Maternal and child health services were among areas most often cut during all 4 time points of the survey. Governance type, total expenditures, and percentage of revenues from local sources were significantly associated with LHD budget cuts.
Cuts in LHD budgets, staff, and activities have been widespread for a period that lasted long after the official end of the Great Recession. There is a great need for substantive and consistent funding to ensure the retention of the workforce and the delivery of essential public health services.
This article provides an overview of budget cuts, job losses, and program reductions among local health departments (LHDs) and examines the association between LHD infrastructure characteristics and the likelihood of budget cuts.
National Association of County & City Health Officials, Washington, District of Columbia.
Correspondence: Jiali Ye, PhD, Research & Evaluation, National Association of County & City Health Officials, 1100 11th St, NW, Seventh Floor, Washington, DC 20036 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This research was supported by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The authors thank Nathalie Robin for her assistance in data analysis.
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.