Nursing Home Jobs That Pay

Stephen Herzenberg
Publication Date: 
November 5, 2015

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Executive Summary

Nursing home work is largely publicly financed through Medicaid and Medicare, and the industry is profitable in Pennsylvania. Nursing home staff members in Pennsylvania, however, continue to struggle to make ends meet. They have joined the growing national movement demanding a minimum wage of $15 per hour and an end to state-funded corporate welfare.

Raising the starting rate to $15 per hour would improve the livelihoods of nursing home workers, results in higher quality care, and help rebuild communities throughout Pennsylvania.

Building on a report released in April, Nursing Home Jobs That Pay updates and deepens our understanding of the nursing home industry and the public subsidy nursing homes receive when employees must depend upon state-funded public assistance because of low wages.

  • In 2014, the Pennsylvania nusing home industry generated $407 million in self-reported profit, up from $370 million in 2013.
  • Based upon new data provided by the Department of Human Services (DHS), nearly 15,000 nursing home workers receive public assistance for low-income families through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, or both. This is nearly one in six nursing home workers, and nearly one in three workers in occupations paid less than $15 per hour on average. The estimated taxpayer cost of this assistance is $118 million per year.
  • Raising the nursing home starting wage to $15 per hour would put more than $300 million in the family budgets of low-wage workers. This report estimates how much of this increase would go to each county in Pennsylvania, as well as the boost to state and local tax revenue by county.

Nursing homes can afford to raise wages and it is time for public officials to demand an end to the corporate welfare provided to the industry. Public funds for nursing home care should be spent on good jobs and high quality care – not on poverty-wage jobs that require workers to rely on public assistance and create high staff turnover that compromises the quality of care.

Read the full briefing paper