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Occupational pay structure in nursing and personal care facilities.

Occupational pay structure in nursing and personal care facilities

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics wage survey,1 occupational pay levels in nursing and personal care facilities spanned a broad range in September 1985, reflecting the diversity of skills required of the workers and where they were employed. Among 22 metropolitan areas studied, pay levels were usually highest in New York and generally lowest in Houston.2 (See table 1.)

Earnings information was developed for full- and part-time workers in 15 occupations, accounting for three-fourths to nine-tenths of an area's nursing home employment. The occupations were selected from two major employee categories --professional/technical and nonprofessional.

Locality averages for full-time general duty nurses typically fell between $9 and $10 an hour, with the lowest recorded in Buffalo ($8.33) and the highest in New York ($13.15). Within an area, general duty nurses usually averaged 20 to 30 percent more than licensed practical nurses and 1 to 1 1/2 times more than nursing aides. On the other hand, head nurses usually averaged 10 to 20 percent more than general duty nurses. Nursing aides, the most populous occupation studied, averaged from $3.65 an hour in Houston to $8.87 in New York, but typically had earnings between $4 and $5.

Similarly, other job averages tended to cluster between the highest and lowest area pay levels: licensed practical nurses, between $7 and $8.50 an hour; activities directors, housekeepers (who supervise the cleaning staff and perform some cleaning duties), and maintenance workers, between $6 and $7.50; cooks, between $4.50 and $6; and cleaners, food service helpers, and laundry workers, between $4 and $5.

Separate earnings information was also developed for full- and part-time workers in each of the surveyed occupations. Part-time workers were found in almost every occupation studied. In nearly all areas, average hourly earnings for part-timers were typically less than for full-time employees, but the wage differentials rarely exceeded 15 percent. One exception to this pattern, however, was among professional/ technical occupations in Milwaukee, where nearly three-fifths of the professional/technical employees worked part-time. In six of the seven occupations, part-timers posted slightly higher average earnings than full-time workers.

Surveywide pay levels in full-time jobs typically rose 3 to 6 percent annually between May 1981 (when a similar nursing home study was conducted)3 and September 1985. During this period, wages and salaries in service industries increased an average of 7.1 percent a year, nationwide, according to the Bureau's Employment Cost Index.

Paid holidays, most commonly 6 to 9 days annually, were provided to at least nine-tenths of the full-time professional/ technical and nonprofessional employees in nearly all areas in September 1985. Virtually all full-time employees were provided paid vacations after qualifying periods of service. Typical vacation plans were at least 1 week of vacation pay after 1 year of service, 2 weeks after 2 years, 3 weeks after 5 years, and 4 weeks after 10 years or more.

Hospitalization, surgical, basic medical, and major medical insurance, for which the employer paid at least part of the cost, covered at least nine-tenths of the full-time workers in one-half of the areas and a majority in nearly all remaining areas. Provisions for life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance were also widespread. Dental insurance covered the majority of the full-time workers in New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, but less than one-half in the other areas. Sickness and accident insurance covered four-fifths of the professional /technical and nonprofessional workers in New York, about one-half in Detroit, and between one-tenth and two-fifths in most other areas. Long-term disability insurance plans, found in 19 areas, were generally available to no more than one-fifth of an area's full-time work force.

Retirement pension plans, in addition to Social Security, covered nine-tenths of the full-time workers in New York, at least seven-tenths in Buffalo-Niagara Falls, nearly three-fifths in Milwaukee, almost one-half in Philadelphia, and between one-tenth and two-fifths of the employees in 14 areas. In most areas, employers typically paid the entire cost of these pensions. Retirement severance plans were reported in 15 areas, and applied to one-tenth or less of the full-time workers.

The 2,498 nursing and personal care facilities within the scope of the survey--those with at least 20 workers--employed approximately 289,000 workers in September 1985. Just over three-fifths were in full-time professional/technical or nonprofessional positions and nearly three-tenths worked part-time in these jobs. The remainder were in executive, administrative, or office clerical positions, or were members of a religious order.

Area employment in nursing homes tended to reflect the population sizes of the localities studied. For example, New York, the most heavily populated area in the survey, had the largest nursing home employment (40,546), followed by Philadelphia (24,367), Los Angeles-Long Beach (22,317), Chicago (20,686), Boston (19,885), Minneapolis-St. Paul (18,600), and Detroit (16,835). These seven areas accounted for nearly three-fifths of the workers employed in nursing homes in the 22 areas studied. Employment in the remaining 15 areas ranged from 4,228 in Miami-Hialeah to 14,305 in St. Louis, but most of them recorded between 6,800 and 11,000 employees.

Nursing homes primarily providing skilled nursing care around the clock employed just over four-fifths of the full-time workers in the survey. The remainder (nearly one-fifth) worked in facilities providing limited nursing and health-related care. These establishments, offering routine health care and employing a licensed practical or registered nurse on at least one shift, were common in three areas: Houston (90 percent of the full-time work force), Dallas-Fort Worth (58 percent), and Boston (39 percent).

Two-fifths of the full-time nonprofessional employees and nearly one-fifth of the full-time professional/technical workers were in facilities with collective bargaining agreements covering a majority of these employment groups. New York had, by far, the largest proportion of union workers in the industry--three-fourths of the professional and nine-tenths of the nonprofessional full-time workers.

A comprehensive report on the survey findings, Industry Wage Survey: Nursing and Personal Care Facilities, September 1985 (Bulletin 2275), may be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, DC 20402, or from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Publications Sales Center, P.O. Box 2145, Chicago, IL 60690.

1 Earnings data exclude premium pay for overtime and for work on weekends, holidays, and late shifts, as well as the value of room, board, and other prerequisities provided in addition to cash wages.

2 Areas are Metropolitan Statistical Areas as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget through June 1983.

3 See Industry Wage Survey: Nursing and Personal Care Facilities, May 1981, Bullet in 2142 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1982).

Table: 1. Pay ranges for selected occupations, nursing and personal care facilities, 11 metropolitan areas, September 1985
COPYRIGHT 1987 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Jul 1, 1987
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