Caregivers Increasingly Less Likely to Work for Low Wages

Care workers are less likely to work for wages they view to be low or unfair, the 2020 National Caregiver Pay Report says. 

For the last nine years, Tampa-based myCNAjobs has collected responses over a 12-month period from millions of caregivers on what hourly wage they’re willing to work for. This year’s response marked the starkest percentage increase, year over year, in the survey’s response history.

Caregivers, on average, were willing to work for $12.68, an uptick from $11.72 last year. Likewise, certified nursing assistants (CNAs) were willing to work for $13.34, a dollar more than the $12.34 they collectively responded last year.

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There’s a myriad of possible reasons for the increase in wage expectation, but not a whole lot of definitive answers, CEO Brandi Kurtyka told Home Health Care News.

“What strikes me is, I think that’s due to what is happening outside our industry more than what’s happening inside our industry,” Kurtyka said. “When you look at the profile of a caregiver — often female, often someone who has kids — even if they want to work inside our industry because they want to be here for reasons beyond a paycheck, there’s a lot of pressure from outside industries. And that’s making an impact.”

Retail giants such as Target (NYSE: TGT), Amazon (NYSE: AMZN) and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) have all raised wages recently, which gives the prototypical caregiver options when considering where to work.

According to myCNAjobs’ research, 28% of caregivers reported that being a caregiver is no longer their primary source of income. They are leaving at an unfortunate time, too, given how sharply the number of people requiring care will rise in the coming decade. 

There may not be an easy answer to the problem, and Kurtyka believes that governmental support may be needed. Sometimes seniors can’t afford the care that they need, after all.

“I think we need to come together as an industry and we need to talk about these things and surface these things to determine what we can do,” Kurtyka said.

It’s worth mentioning that the pay expectancy varies state by state and region by region. Caregivers will work for significantly less than the national average in some areas of the country and demand far higher than the national average in others. 

The report also provided statistics on reasons why caregivers and CNAs may consider leaving the industry: 55% of the respondents reported not receiving a wage increase over the past 12 months, 38% reported lack of tenure-based pay incentives at their agencies and 85% want the opportunity to make more money with overtime.

In order to curb the current trend, agencies will need to tailor their recruiting and retention practices to meet what the market demands.

“Agencies — and I see this as an opportunity — need to become more competitive in things outside of wages,” Kurtyka said. “A couple of years ago, an agency could sit on a job applicant. They could not call somebody back for three days. They could not have the hours that a caregiver wants to work and still keep them on board. Well, now they can’t… if you can’t pay more, you’ve got to be better at everything else.”

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