Nursing home operators raised wages for certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) since the pandemic. The power of unions, market dynamics and Biden’s public policy shifts led to increased wages. For example, Avamere and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 503 agreed to a contract providing $18 an hour for new CNAs. Connecticut’s iCare Health Network set $20 per hour minimum wage for CNAs and $30 for licensed practical nurses.
The average U.S. hourly rate for CNAs is $17.22, according to data collected by online job platform CareListings. Unfortunately, the average South Carolina CNA starts at less than $12 an hour. The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics shows that CNAs make up 37% of employees per nursing home.
Industry groups such as the American Health Care Association (AHCA) seek even higher wages, emphasizing that the industry faces “a legitimate crisis.” AHCA demands Congress take action on Care for Our Seniors Act. This will help alleviate the nursing home workforce crisis. May’s labor report showed a drop of 19,500 nursing and residential care jobs.
Lori Porter is is co-founder and chief executive of the National Association of Health Care Assistants. She states work culture is key:
“That’s what drives most CNAs out of the profession. It’s never been the money. It’s never been the residents.”
“It’s the treatment, the non-value. It’s treated as a job when it is not a job, because trust me, there are far easier jobs. And everyone is hiring.”
As a nursing home attorney, we often hear CNAs complain about management creating a hostile work environment and feeling burn-out and frustration. This environment leads to abuse, neglect, and substance-abuse issues.