Healthcare Wages Stagnant 2005–2015 for All Gender and Race/Ethnicity Groups

This is the second in a series of blog posts based on the CEPR report, Organizational Restructuring in U.S. Healthcare Systems: Implications for Jobs, Wages, and Inequality, that examines the experiences of healthcare workers over a decade of change from 2005 to 2015.

Examining wage trends in hospitals by gender and race/ethnicity we observe that the real median hourly wage of full-time, full-year workers increased for every demographic group over the decade. However, with the exception of white women and Asian/other women, the real wage increases came to less than one dollar an hour. White women’s real median wage increased by $1.24 between 2005 and 2015, Asian/other women saw an increase of $1.50 over that time period.

Workers in outpatient care centers experienced declines in real median hourly wages in every gender and race/ethnicity group except white men, whose real median pay increased by 99 cents an hour over the ten years, and Asian/other women whose real median pay was flat (a gain of 6 cents an hour) over the decade. Black men saw a steep decline in their real median wage of $2.55 an hour or $5,300 a year; Hispanic men’s pay declined by 99 cents.

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Looking at wage trends for demographic groups by occupation, however, tells a much more complex story. The wage gains in hospitals between 2005 and 2015 for every demographic group noted above turn out to apply mainly to healthcare professionals who, with the exception of Hispanic women and Asian/other women who experienced real median hourly wage losses of 24 cents and 15 cents, respectively, saw real wage gains. In contrast, wage trends for the two largest nonprofessional occupational categories in hospitals ― medical technicians and health aides and assistants ― show wage declines. Among health aides and assistants, every gender and race/ethnicity group in hospitals except Asian/other men (up 32 cents) experienced declines in real median pay ranging from 16 cents to $1.71 an hour. Among medical technicians, real median hourly pay declined for every group except white women (up 19 cents) and Hispanic women (up $1.08).

The pattern of wage gains and losses in outpatient care facilities was very different. Among healthcare professionals in outpatient care facilities, only white men and women and black men experienced wage gains over the decade. The gains in real median pay were large for white and black men ― $3.65 an hour for white men, $3.62 for black men ― an annual increase of more than $7,500. White women saw a gain of 85 cents an hour. All other demographic groups experienced a decrease in real median hourly wages. Among nonprofessional workers in outpatient care, white, black, and Asian/other men employed as medical technicians saw declines in real median hourly wages ― steep decreases in the case of black and Asian/other men. Real median pay of Hispanic men rose by $1.53 an hour from 2006 to 2015. White, black and Asian/other women med techs experienced real wage gains of a dollar or less, while real median pay of Hispanic women fell $1.64 an hour. Among health aides and assistants, three demographic groups’ ― white men, black men, and Asian/other women ― real median hourly pay fell by more than a dollar. Wage gains for the remaining five demographic groups range from 6 or 7 cents an hour for black and Hispanic women, to $1.15 for Asian/other men, and to a robust $2.52 and $4.30 for Hispanic men and Asian/other men respectively.

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