Professionals in the Workplace: Community and Social Service Professionals

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1 Community and Social Service Professionals Updated February 2015 Community and social service professionals perform challenging, yet rewarding work. These counselors, social workers, and others working in community and social service specialties work with some of society s most vulnerable and needy populations. The services they provide are wide-ranging, and their compensation is relatively low compared to similar professionals. Community and social service professionals are increasingly turning to unions as a way to earn respect, support, and a fair wage for the difficult jobs they perform. Employment and Earnings Community and social service occupations employ nearly two million professionals. 1 They are employed as social workers (799,000); counselors (737,000); probation officers and correctional treatment specialists (100,000); social and human service assistants (180,000); and miscellaneous community and social service specialists, including health educators and community health workers (114,000). 2 In 2014, approximately 80 percent of the community and social service workforce was employed in full-time positions. 3 Community and social service workforce by percentage employed, 2013 Community Health Workers 3% Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder 5% Social and Human Service Assistants 21% Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational 15% Marriage and Family Therapists 2% Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists 5% Health Educators 3% Rehabilitation 6% Mental Health 7% Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers 7% Healthcare Social Workers 9% Child, Family, and School Social Workers 17% source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013.

2 From 2007 to 2013, nearly 110,000 community and social service jobs were added; a six percent increase over six years. 4 Fluctuations in employment in many occupations in this field are largely the result of instability in state and local funding for community and social services that started after the economic downturn in late Percent employment change in selected community and social service occupations, % 4.0% 1.0% 6.0% 11.0% source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May All community and social service occupations Mental health counselors Child, family, and school social workers Mental health and substance abuse social workers Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors Rehabilitation counselors Healthcare social workers Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists Social and human service assistants Local employment of community and social service professionals is down two percent from January 2007 to January 2015, while for-profit and self-employment increased one percent over the same period. 5 Non-profit entities employed 25 percent of the community and social service workforce in January State, local, and for profit entitles employed 21, 23, and 26 percent of the workforce, respectively in January Elementary and secondary schools employed 10 percent of the workforce in 2013; another 16 percent were employed in the individual and family services industries. 7 This industry Community and Social Service Professionals Page 2 of 6

3 primarily provides counseling and assistance with food and rent supplements and refugee assistance. Many social service professionals also work with community and religious groups, unions, and other organizations for social change, the alleviation of poverty, and community improvement. 8 Earnings in the social services industry are low compared to similarly educated professionals. In 2013, median annual income for all workers in community and social service occupations was $40,810. Wages, adjusted for inflation, actually declined 2.3 percent between 2007 and Median wages for all education, training and library workers was $46,140 in May Community and Social Service Workers' Annual Median Wages, 2013 source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May Social and Human Service Assistants Rehabilitation Community Health Worker Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Community and Social Service Specialists, All Mental Health Average Annual Median Wage Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Child, Family, and School Social Workers, All Other Marriage and Family Therapists Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Health Educators Healthcare Social Workers Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Social Workers, All Other $29,230 $34,230 $34,610 $38,620 $40,050 $40,580 $40,810 $40,970 $42,120 $43,620 $48,160 $48,440 $49,210 $50,820 $53,600 $56,510 $ $10,000 $20,000 $30,000 $40,000 $50,000 $60,000 Demographics and Education Community and social service occupations are an important employer for women and minorities. Women made up 64 percent of the community and social service workforce in 2014 (women were 52 percent of the professional workforce in 2014). The highest concentration of women, 82 percent was among social workers. 11 Minorities also had above average representation in community and social service occupations. Black and African American professionals were 18 percent of the community and social service workforce (19 percent of counselors and 21 percent of social workers), yet Blacks and African Americans were only nine percent of the professional workforce and 11 percent of Community and Social Service Professionals Page 3 of 6

4 the total workforce in The highest concentration of Blacks and African Americans was among social and human service assistants, 26 percent, in Hispanic and Latinos were 12 percent of community and social service professionals, while only making up nine percent of the professional workforce in 2014 and 16 percent of the total workforce. Hispanics and Latinos were 17 percent of miscellaneous community and social service specialists, 17 percent of social and human service assistants, and 16 percent of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists in The community and social service workforce is highly educated. Overall, 73 percent of the workforce had at least earned a bachelor s degree in January Among counselors, 53 percent reported their highest degree earned was at least a master s degree in January Education attainment of community and social service professionals, January 2015 Social workers Probation officerss and correctional treatment specialists Social and human service assistants Misc. community and social service specialists source: U.S. Census Bureau, DataFerrett, Current Population Survey, Monthly Microdata, January % 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% High school diploma or less Some college, no degree Associate's degree Bachelor's degree Master's degree Ph.D or professional degree Union Difference Community and social service occupations have above average union membership (11.1 percent of the workforce was unionized in 2014). Among social workers in 2014, 19.5 percent were union members. Over 18 percent of counselors were union members in 2013 and 40.5 percent of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists were union members. 15 There was a significant union difference for community and social service professionals in Union social workers earned an average of 22 percent more than non-union social workers in 2013, a union difference of $191 per week. Union counselors saw an even bigger union difference, earning an average of 52 percent more than non-union counselors in 2013, a union difference of $389 per week. Miscellaneous community and social service specialists earned 52 percent more, a $347 per week union difference. 16 Earnings for union member Community and Social Service Professionals Page 4 of 6

5 community and social service professionals were close to the earnings of union members in education, training, and library occupations. Working Conditions and Trends One of the major challenges for the community and social service professions is the volatility of state and local funding for social services. This results in increased caseloads and longer hours, which can lead to high turnover and inadequate services for vulnerable populations. Although women made up the majority of community and social service professionals in 2014, on average, men earned $110 more per week than their female counterparts. The disparity persisted within occupations as well. In 2014, male counselors earned $54 more per week than female counselors and male social workers earned $53 more per week than female social workers. 17 The social work professions can also be quite dangerous. In response to a National Association of Social Workers survey, 44 percent of licensed social workers reported that they are faced with personal safety issues in their primary employment practice. 18 For more information about professional and technical workers, including professional women, visit the DPE website, The Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) comprises 22 AFL- CIO unions representing over four million people working in professional, technical and administrative support occupations. DPE-affiliated unions represent: teachers, college professors, and school administrators; library workers; nurses, doctors, and other health care professionals; engineers, scientists, and IT workers; journalists and writers, broadcast technicians and communications specialists; performing and visual artists; professional athletes; professional firefighters; psychologists, social workers, and many others. DPE was chartered by the AFL-CIO in 1977 in recognition of the rapidly growing professional and technical occupations. Source: DPE Research Department th Street, N.W., 7th Floor Washington, DC Contact: Jennifer Dorning February 2015 (202) , extension 114 Community and Social Service Professionals Page 5 of 6

6 1 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Household Data Annual Averages, Table 11, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Household Data Annual Averages, Table 11, 2007 and U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Household Data Annual Averages, Table 39, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, OES Data May 2007 and May 2013, accessed February 19, 2015, 5 U.S. Census Bureau, DataFerrett, Current Population Survey, Monthly Microdata, January 2007 and January U.S. Census Bureau, DataFerrett, Current Population Survey, Monthly Microdata, January U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Community and Social Service Occupations, May Accessed February 19, 2015, 8 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Occupational Outlook Handbook, Edition; Social Workers; School and Career ; Mental Health ; Rehabilitation ; and Health Educators 9 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, OES Data May 2007 and May 2013, accessed February 19, 2015, Bureau of Labor Statistics, CPI Inflation Calculator, accessed September 23, 2013, 10 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, OES Data May 2013, accessed February 19, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Household Data Annual Averages, Table 11, Ibid. 13 Ibid. 14 U.S. Census Bureau, DataFerrett, Current Population Survey, Basic Monthly Microdata, January Barry T. Hirsch and David A. Macpherson, Union Membership, Coverage, Density and Employment by Occupation, 2014, accessed February 19, Barry T. Hirsch and David A. Macpherson, Union Membership and Earnings Data Book: Compilations from the Current Population Survey, 2014 Edition. The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. 17 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Household Data Annual Averages, Table 39, National Association of Social Workers, Center for Workforce Studies, Social Workers and Safety, Community and Social Service Professionals Page 6 of 6

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