January 27, 2020, Chuck Sudo, Senior Housing News - Wages for salaried and hourly assisted living employees continued an upward trend in 2019, with administrator salaries seeing the largest average increases. That’s according to a Senior Housing News analysis of the most recent Assisted Living Salary & Benefits Report from the Hospital & Healthcare Compensation Service, an annual release that is produced with support from LeadingAge and the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL).
The report includes data from 1,360 assisted living communities and over 87,400 employees. Of that total, 86.03% of respondents hailed from for-profit facilities, and 79.56% worked at assisted living facilities.
Assisted living administrators reported the largest increases in salary last year. The average annual AL administrator salary of $100,622 marked a 3.6% increase over 2018, and a rebound from a 0.07% decrease in average salary in 2017, according to the report. Human resources directors saw the second-largest salary increase last year. The average salary of $81,950 marked a 3.34% boost over the previous year.
Among top leadership positions, CEOs continued to earn the most money, with an average salary of $122,321 in 2019 — a 3.08% increase over 2018. The upward salary trends appear to have resulted in lower turnover at the executive level, as well. Turnover rates among assisted living executives dropped from 8.81% in 2018 to 7.02%.
On the hourly employee front, dining services turnover emerged as the biggest pain point for assisted living facilities. The department had the highest turnover percentage among respondents at 41.43%, even as salaries for directors of dining and food services saw a 3.08% increase in salary from 2018 to 2019. Dining room supervisors averaged $15.07 per hour last year, and waitstaff averaged $9.70 nationally.
When asked how turnover changed over the past 12 months, 35.13% of the report’s respondents said it increased, 55.46% said it stayed the same, and 9.41% said turnover decreased.
This data comes against a backdrop of intense labor challenges across senior living, with national unemployment rates at historically low levels. This is adding to wage pressures, resulting in margin compression that has in some cases become severe. Publicly traded providers Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) and Five Star Senior Living (Nasdaq: FVE) both logged year-over-year labor expense increases of nearly 7% in Q3 2019.