A new study by a team of UW researchers, including Harry Bridges Center Faculty Associate Jennifer Romich and former Bridges Center Director Kim England, finds that nonprofit social services workers in Seattle are grossly underpaid compared to other sectors.

In fall and winter 2022-2023, researchers at the UW School of Social Work assembled and collaborated with a group of national and international scholars to investigate the extent of the inequity compared with other public and private sector jobs. The study included different methodologies and analytic approaches to investigating wage inequities, and reviewed factors that have suppressed wages in the non-profit human services sector over time, including race and gender discrimination, wage penalties for caring labor, and decisions made by federal and local policymakers.

The report contains two key findings: 

  • Finding #1: The market analysis found that human services workers are systematically paid less than workers in non-care industries, with estimated pay gaps of 30% or more across different econometric models. 
  • Finding #2: In-depth job analysis found that human services workers are paid less than workers in other industries or sectors whose tasks are rated as comparable through a systematic job evaluation process. 

The full report is available on the project website, including an executive summary, the report, and the report with appendices. Kim England, along with Geography graduate student and Frank Jenkins Fellow Yuying Xie, contributed an interactive digital timeline of local and historical policy developments related to Wage Equity in Washington state.

News sources have covered the report, including Real Change, Crosscut, and Publicola.