Assisted Living CNA Pay Grew in 2020, But Turnover Skyrocketed

Assisted living certified nursing assistants (CNAs) earned more in 2020 amid a dramatic increase in employee turnover as the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated.

Lead CNAs across the U.S. saw their hourly wages increase by nearly 7.3% in 2020, while hourly pay for CNAs grew by just over 5.7%, according to 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 national average hourly wage for CNAs was $13.92 in 2020.

The report was compiled using responses from 74,400 employees at 1,379 assisted living communities throughout the U.S.


But while hourly wages grew for CNAs in 2020, turnover increased by an even greater amount. Turnover for CNAs grew from a national average of 36.37% in 2019 to 48.51% last year. And this was a trend that carried over into other assisted living positions, too: Turnover for resident assistants (RAs) went from 43.18% in 2019 to 59.93% in 2020, while the turnover rate for all assisted living employees increased from 44.05% in 2019 to 53.11% in 2020.

Assisted living employees who stayed in their jobs ended up working more to cover the gap. When asked how Covid-19 affected their community in 2020, 47.2% of the survey’s respondents said that the pandemic led to increased hours worked for RNs, LPNs, CNAs, waitstaff and housekeeping employees. And 22.2% of respondents said they are using more overtime.

Many of the pay increases were related to changes made in response to Covid-19, with 59.3% of respondents having granted additional pay to employees working with Covid-positive residents. Increased shift differentials and one-time bonuses or appreciation pay were the most common kind of pay adjustments, according to the survey.


Assisted living leaders, meanwhile, are still seeing wage increases at rates similar to last year’s. The national average salary for assisted living CEOs and presidents in 2020 was about $115,300, an increase of nearly 2.1% when compared to 2019. For assisted living administrators, the national average salary was about $78,300, an almost 2.6% increase over what they made in 2019.

Companies featured in this article: