Background: Prior studies demonstrated that wage disparities exist across race and ethnicity within selected health care occupations. Wage disparities may negatively affect the industry's ability to recruit and retain a diverse workforce throughout the career ladder.
Objective: To determine whether wage disparities by race and ethnicity persist across health care occupations and whether disparities vary across the skill spectrum.
Research design: Retrospective analysis of 2011-2018 data from the Current Population Survey using Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition regression methods to identify sources of variation in wage disparities. Separate models were run for 9 health care occupations.
Subjects: Employed individuals 18 and older working in health care occupations, categorized by race/ethnicity.
Measures: Annual wages were predicted as a function of race/ethnicity, age, sex, marital status, having a child under 5 in the household, living in a metro area, highest education attained, and usual hours worked.
Results: Non-Hispanics consistently made more than Hispanic licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPNs/LVNs), aides/assistants, technicians, and community-based workers. Asian/Pacific Islanders consistently made more than Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Multiracial individuals across occupations except physicians, advanced practitioners, or therapists. Asian/Pacific Islanders only made significantly less when compared with White physicians, but more than White advanced practitioners, registered nurses, LPNs/LVNs, and aides/assistants. Based on observed attributes, Black registered nurses, LPNs/LVNs, and aides/assistants were predicted to make more than their White peers, but unexplained variation negated these gains.
Conclusions: Many wage gaps remained unexplained based on measured factors warranting further study. Addressing wage disparities is critical to advance in careers and reduce job turnover.
Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.