The Who’s Better Off Game:Healthcare Workers

Federal officials confidently predict that 3.5 million new healthcare jobs will be created by 2012, a far-higher-than-average growth rate of 28 percent. But there is a gray lining to this silver cloud: Hospitals, which account for nearly 40 percent of all healthcare employment, are continuously scaling back…

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a clean-sounding explanation for the downsizing that’s hit hospital in dozens of states over the last four years, calling it “a result of efforts to control hospital costs and of the increasing utilization of outpatient clinics and other alternative care sites.” Hospital workers and their unions call it something else — the result of mismanagement, greed, and federal neglect. Facing growing pressures to turn big profits and shrinking Medicare and Medicaid payments, hospitals are lurching into crisis, workers insist.

Whatever the cause, the effects are clear: From Long Island to Miami, Philadelphia to Oakland, hospitals have eliminated hundreds of thousands of jobs. Even with the nation in the midst of a nursing shortage, with hospitals in California, Ohio and elsewhere adding nursing jobs, job security remains bleak. That’s especially true in Florida. In the summer of 2000, there were 149,060 registered nurses working in Florida hospitals. By the summer of 2003, that number had plummeted to 131,260, a drop of more than 10 percent. Nurses in Illinois have been hit with an economic double-whammy. Not only are there fewer hospital jobs for registered nurses, but real income has dropped. Adjusted for inflation, registered nurses’ wages in Illinois actually fell by about .3 percent between 2000 and 2003.

Support workers, among the lowest-paid hospital employees, have been hit particularly hard. In Pennsylvania, for instance, more than 4,000 housekeeping jobs have disappeared since 2000. And there has been little if any growth in wages. While housekeeping workers across the nation saw incomes increase by about 1.6 percent between 2000 and 2003, workers in many states, like Florida and Michigan, saw only meager gains of about .3 to .5 percent.

Among all hospital workers, there is one group that has gained in just about every way — managers. True, job growth has been modest — just 1 percent nationwide. But wages have accelerated at an industry-best rate. Adjusted for inflation, medical managers are earning nearly 10 percent more today than they were in 2000.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

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Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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