Home Health Industry Growing While Wages Stagnate Overall

Though the U.S. health care industry — including home health — is growing at a steady clip, health care workers across the board are actually making the same amount of money, or even less, than they were a decade ago.

That’s according to a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). The report, which was funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation, tracks the changing patterns of jobs and wages for health care workers.

The home health industry added 492,480 jobs and grew by 61.1% between 2005 and 2015, the report found. Home health care represented 8.2% of the U.S. health care segment’s total jobs for the decade. For reference, the overall health care industry, which includes hospitals, outpatient care centers, physicians’ offices, home health care services and nursing homes, added 2,680,770 jobs and grew by 20.4% between 2005 and 2015.

Health care spending in the U.S. hit $3.2 trillion in 2015 and represented 17.8% of total gross domestic product (GDP). Health care also made up about 12.8% of private sector jobs — and was the only industry that expanded during the Great Recession. The overall health care sector added 381,000 jobs in 2016, the most of any industry that year.

Despite those gains, health care workers don’t seem to be getting a larger piece of the pie. Real median hourly wages for full-time, full-year health care workers fell from $20.22 in 2005 to $19.73 in 2015, a change of about 2.4%, according to the report.

Other top takeaways related to home health include:

  • Union membership for home health workers is declining. Though the home health industry added 38,000 union member workers between 2005 and 2015, the total percentage of unionized home health workers dropped to 8.7% in 2015 from 9.8% in 2005.
  • Hospitals are merging and acquiring to reach a larger consumer base by offering more kinds of services. As hospitals get bigger, they are increasingly creating full-service health care systems spanning physician practices, outpatient care centers, home health providers and skilled nursing facilities.
  • Despite the prevalence of part-time caregivers in home health, the share of overall health care workers who are part time fell slightly to 22.8% in 2015, a 0.9 percentage point drop from 2005’s total of 23.7%.

Read the full report online.

Written by Tim Regan

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Tim Regan
Tim is a lover of bad jokes and good beer. When he's not hunched over his work computer, Tim can usually be found hunched over his personal computer.