A report released Monday by the San Diego Workforce Partnership revealed that while the region’s healthcare sector can provide a pathway to the middle class for San Diego workers, women and people of color often lack access to this pathway.
According to the report, women and people of color face barriers to high-wage positions in healthcare and higher education and are often employed in low-wage positions that lack opportunities for growth and mobility.
“All San Diegans deserve the opportunity to be elevated beyond their current social strata to build a better life for themselves and their families,” says Daniel Enemark, senior economist for the San Diego Workforce Partnership.
“What this report shows us is that the healthcare sector can provide this pathway. But we need to do better to ensure these pathways are accessible to all job seekers. The healthcare sector must offer a self-sustaining wage and opportunities for low-wage workers to advance.”
According to economists, healthcare is often considered recession- proof because the demand for medical care is inelastic — it doesn’t depend on the state of the economy.
According to the report, San Diego’s healthcare industry employs 186,000 workers in San Diego County, which is 5% of the population and 13% of overall employment. Additionally, San Diego ranks first in the U.S. for genomic patents and is home to more than 80 research institutions and 30 hospitals.
Hispanic, Black, Native American and multiracial workers are disproportionately employed in the healthcare sector’s lowest-paying occupations, while 80% of workers in occupations with median wages of $60 or more an hour are white or Asian.
Women make up 46% of San Diego’s workforce, 71% of healthcare workers and 87% of registered nurses — however, 68% of those in high-wage occupations with a median wage over $60/hour are men.
In response to these barriers faced by women and people of color, the Workforce Partnership intends to collaborate with healthcare employers and educators to increase access to economic opportunity for all San Diegans.
Some of the partnership’s intended actions include expanding outreach to entry-level options in healthcare that offer a self-sustaining wage without requiring a four-year degree such as licensed practical/vocational nurses, phlebotomists, surgical techs, radiologic techs, dental hygienists, respiratory therapists, physical therapy assistants, diagnostic medical sonographers, cardiovascular techs, occupational therapy assistants and MRI technologists.
–City News Service