Ample Growth in Low-Wage Health Care Jobs

There has been a recent surge in jobs in the health care field. This means that there are more job opportunities for people that work in clinics, hospitals and physicians offices. Sounds great, right? A study performed recently by Brookings Institute has shown that the majority of these new jobs in the health care field are rather low paying. Researchers are troubled because studies are showing that these workers are living at or slightly above the poverty line.

The Brookings Institute’s study took a close look at about 10 jobs in the health care field within 100 metropolitan areas to compile data on wages, employment and diversity. The data is being used by researchers in the hopes of shedding some light on why the influx of more health care jobs does not mean a better deal for those employed in the field.

An example of some of the troubling statistics we are seeing can be found right in the heart of St. Louis over the past 10 years. There has been a near doubling of personal care aides that do not have bachelor’s degrees and yet during this same time span, the local wages for this position has actually dropped by 25%. These are not good figures, especially when you’d expect the wages to be on the rise rather than the decline.

Hopefully now that this issue is being recognized by the U.S. Labor Force, we will see some forward momentum. Brookings has proposed a few viable solutions to this issue in the ways of utilizing health care workers a bit better, offering additional training and expanding educational opportunities. There is also the added goal of pulling hospitals and regional care providers into the fold to press the need for more systematic changes.

"Health care jobs lift less-educated workers," USA Today, July 24, 2014, Paul Davidson,
"Low-wage health care jobs grow but without mobility," The Tennessean, July 23, 2014, Shelley DuBois,
"Part of the Solution: Pre-Baccalaureate Healthcare Workers in a Time of Health System Change," Brookings, July 2014, Martha Ross, Nicole Pichrl Svajlenka, and Jane Williams,

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