Home health and personal care aides are among the fastest-growing jobs in America. With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, the demand for home care is on an upward trajectory.
And yet wages are not rising for this group of workers, according to nonpartisan Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR).
“Despite more rapid growth in employment in outpatient facilities than in hospitals, median real wages of non-professaionl patient care workers were lower in outpatient care than in hospitals,” CEPR wrote in a post about its report on its report, Organizational Restructuring in U.S. Healthcare Systems: Implications for Jobs, Wages and Inequality.
The disconnect between the growing need for home care workers and their low wages has been seen and covered elsewhere in the industry—Vice News recently highlighted a group of home care workers in Georgia who are fighting for a $15 hourly wage.
Employment in outpatient health care settings, such as outpatient centers, physicians’ offices and home health care services, grew five times faster than it did in hospitals from 2007 to 2015, according to CEPR. For medical technicians and health aides and assistants, wages in 2013 to 2015 were only back up to the 2005 to 2007 levels or even lower.
CEPR revealed that institutional factors were likely the cause of declining or stagnant wages, pointing to a decline in union density for support occupations in outpatient care facilities, which fell from 10% to 4.5% from 2005 to 2015. While the number of unions remained consistent, more workers in the industry watered down the density, CEPR explained.
“The fall in union density in non-professional support occupations in outpatient services may explain some of the wage decline in outpatient care and the lower wages paid in these facilities than in hospitals,” the post argued.
In addition, employers may simply hold more bargaining power. As the health care system consolidates, employers “may be able to exercise monopoly power to gain lower prices for inputs—in this case, lower wages of workers,” the post read.
Written by Amy Baxter