Interactive Map: A Look at Doctors’ Wages by State

April 23, 2010 by Emsi Burning Glass

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Recently the Wall Street Journal created a good bit of buzz with a story on the national shortage of doctors. The piece included a map of primary-care physicians per 1,000 people by state.

We thought it was interesting and decided to add another layer of analysis. Using the new regional comparison functionality in Analyst, our web-based data tool, we pulled wages for physicians and surgeons in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. and looked for correlations between the density of physician employment and physician earnings.

Mouse over each state on the map to see median hourly earnings.

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Here’s what we discovered:

  • Generally in states with the fewest doctors (i.e., less than 1.0 per 1,000 people), the median hourly wages are higher than the U.S. median ($66.46). There are a few outliers — e.g., Idaho and Oklahoma — but the overarching trend makes sense given supply/demand issues.

  • Conversely, Connecticut and Massachusetts are the only states with the highest density of physicians and surgeons (more than 1.5 doctors for ever 1,000 residents) where earnings are above the national average (Washington, D.C. falls into this category too).

Here’s how the wages look when we take each density category as a group:

We grouped the states by density category and then derived the median wage for each category. Initially there doesn’t appear to be a huge trend. The “fewer than 1.0” category is a little bit lower than the “1.0-1.2” category, and only slightly higher than “1.21-1.5”. But the difference between the “1.0-1.2” group and the “more than 1.5” group is nearly $10. The category with the densest concentration of doctors show the lowest wages at the median. The other three categories all sit close to $3 above the doctors’ national median wage of $66.46.

There’s nothing earth shattering here. It’s just a basic application of supply and demand — but it’s an example of how a simple application of additional data can yield further insight on a question like this.

One last side note of interest: Minnesota has the highest wages in the nation for doctors and surgeons ($104.84) while Nebraska comes in at the bottom ($52.91)

See any other trends or have any other comments on the map? Reach us at 208.883.3500 or jwright@economicmodeling.com.