Healthcare Wage Increases Lag Behind Other Industries
A new study from Indiana University, California-based nonprofit Rand Corp., and the University of Michigan shows average wages for healthcare workers in the U.S. have risen less than wages in other industries during the pandemic. Additionally, healthcare employment levels dropped 5.2% in mid-2020 compared to 2019.
The study, published in the Journal of American Medical Association Health Forum, tracked changes in the healthcare workforce and wages through 2020 and the first six months of 2021.
“While there has been extensive media coverage of the considerable employment declines in the health care sector, evidence from complete national employment and wages was scarce,” said co-author Kosali Simon, distinguished professor and Herman B Wells endowed professor in the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU Bloomington. “These findings provide a data-driven picture of employment levels by various health care settings and can help guide decision-making not only around the current health care shortage but also during a future crisis.”
The study shows wages in the healthcare sector increased 1.5% versus the national average of 6.9% in 2021. In 2019, healthcare wages grew 5% compared to the national average of 6.7%.
Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, researchers found healthcare jobs dropped to 21.1 million in mid-2020. Those declines were spread across a variety of healthcare organization types, with the largest drop seen among dental offices at 10% and skilled nursing facilities at 8.4%.
The study notes that while employment levels in most healthcare sectors have rebounded to pre-COVID levels, there is still a 13.6% decline at skilled nursing facilities compared to 2019.
“While federal programs provided financial assistance to hospitals and institutions, it is important to focus on the effect of the pandemic on health care employment levels and wages, especially if we want to prevent such shortages in the future,” added Christopher Whaley, policy researcher at the Rand Corp. and co-author of the study.
You can connect to the full study results by clicking here.