Skip to main content

Analysis

Hospitals Hike Minimum Wage in Geographic Clusters

By Steven Porter  
   December 27, 2018

The lowest-paid worker at one health system in the Philadelphia area will make $15.15 per hour, effective New Year's Day 2019.

As the year draws to a close, hospitals and health systems around the U.S. have announced in spurts that they will raise minimum wages for their workers early next year to as much as $15.15 per hour.

Some have touted the raises as investments not only in their employees but also in the economies of their local communities, but they have also been clear that these moves are part of an effort to stay competitive in a tight labor market.

That could help to explain why many of the 10 recently announced wage hikes below appear to be cropping up in geographic clusters.

North Carolina
 

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, based in Winston-Salem, said November 9 it raised its minimum wage to $12.50 per hour, benefiting 1,460 employees, or about 9% of its workforce, as the Winston-Salem Journal reported.

Hugh Chatham Hospital, based in Elkin, said November 29 it will increase its minimum wage to $12 per hour, effective January 6, benefitting an undisclosed number of its 800 employees, as the Winston-Salem Journal reported.

UNC Health Care, based in Chapel Hill, said December 11 that it will raise its minimum wage to $14 per hour, effective January 13, then to $15 per hour in July 2019. Other hourly workers will see their wages rise as well, the system said, resulting in bigger paychecks for about 9,000 workers.

Related: Novant Health CEO Carl Armato Touts Work Culture, Employee Bonuses

(This cluster of activity comes after Novant Health, based in Winston-Salem, said in August that it will raise its minimum wage to $12.50 per hour, from $11 per hour, benefitting about 5,000 workers. It comes also after Greensboro-based Cone Health raised its minimum wage in 2017 to $12 per hour, from $10.15, as part of its efforts to compete for workers, as the Triad Business Journal reported.)

Philadelphia Area
 

Cooper University Health Care, based in Camden, New Jersey, said November 13 it will increase its minimum wage to $15 per hour, effective January 1, benefitting about 10% of the system's 7,500 employees.

Jefferson Health, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said November 29 it will increase its minimum wage to $15 per hour in January across all 14 of its hospitals, benefiting more than 1,800 current employees. Compensation for employees who earn less than $18 per hour will be adjusted as well, the system said.

Virtua Health, based in Marlton, New Jersey, said December 5 it will raise its minimum wage to $15.15 per hour, effective January 1, raising wages for 900-1,000 of the system's 9,000 workers. "We want to send a clear signal to our employees that we care about them," Virtua President and CEO Dennis W. Pullin, FACHE, said in a statement.

(St. Joseph's Health and Inspira Health Network indicated in November that they are in the process of working toward a $15-per-hour minimum wage, as ROI-NJ.com reported. RWJBarnabas Health CEO Barry Ostrowsky indicated in December that his organization, too, is considering a possible $15-per-hour minimum wage, but Ostrowsky noted such a hike would come with "unintended consequences," such as higher wages causing some workers to lose their eligibility for public assistance programs, as ROI-NJ.com reported.)

Christiana Care Health System, based in Wilmington, Delaware—which is about 30 miles southwest of Philadelphia—said December 10 it will increase its minimum wage to $15 per hour, effective February 1, benefitting 500 of the system's nearly 12,000 workers. "This is the right thing to do for our employees, and we also believe that it will have a positive economic impact on our community," President and CEO Janice E. Nevin, MD, MPH, said in a statement.

Other Noteworthy Names
 

In addition to the clusters above, some big-name health systems in other areas have similarly announced minimum-wage increases recently:

Ochsner Health System, based in New Orleans, Louisiana, said December 6 that it will raise its minimum wage to $12 per hour, from $8.10, effective January 20, benefitting more than 1,200 employees systemwide. "Although Ochsner was already well above the current Louisiana minimum wage, we wanted to do more," Ochsner President and CEO Warner Thomas said in a statement.

Advocate Aurora Health, headquartered in Chicago and Milwaukee, said November 29 it will increase its minimum wage to $15 per hour by early 2021, with incremental raises planned for $13 per hour in mid-2019 and $14 per hour in early 2020. "We know that if our team members feel this is the best place to work, our patients will feel this is the best place to entrust their health and wellness," Chief Human Resources Officer Kevin Brady said in a memo to staff.

Cleveland Clinic President and CEO Tom Mihaljevic, MD, said December 11 in a guest column in The Plain Dealer that "the overwhelming majority of our Northeast Ohio workforce will make no less than $15 per hour" by 2020.

Steven Porter is an associate content manager and Strategy editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


Get the latest on healthcare leadership in your inbox.