The Bureau of Labor Statistics has just recently released their data for 2021! (Reports are released in the following year). For those who have not read the previous article or may not know what the BLS is, it is a government organization that creates an occupational outlook handbook for various careers including dentistry. The report provides useful information including the location of most jobs (green map), the most saturated locations (red maps), and high income zones (blue maps). The report for dentistry can be found at https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291021.htm. You can also go to https://www.bls.gov/ooh/ and search any other job you’re curious about too. As a caveat, the data should not be the only resource you use to figure out where to work, what to expect to make, etc., however, it can be useful in addition to other research. You may want to consider doing a formal demographic analysis as well as a cost of living calculator before getting too excited. Also be sure to verify population growth and a diverse industry for the patient base by using City-Data information at https://www.city-data.com/. Also be sure to check out the ADA’s Health Policy Institute’s report on dentist-to-population ratios. With that out of the way, let’s jump into the findings.
Note: Visit the BLS website to have the ability to hover over each county to see the detailed breakdown by county.
SOME TAKE AWAYS:
1.) High cost-of-living areas tend to pay higher wages in dentistry (obviously). Working in Hawaii sounds nice until you realize that $177K (the state average) could have half the buying power than other parts of the country. On top of that, Kauai Hawaii scored as the #1 most concentrated area for dentists in 2021 (followed by the Upper Peninsula in MI and the NW lower peninsula in MI). Some states’ counties have performed consistently well like Oregon’s non-metro coast area (#1 in annual income in 2021 with an average of $241,650), however, remember that Oregon has a state income tax of 9.9% and other factors that might make it less appealing to you (like your inability to pull off the hipster-look).
2.) Total dental jobs have fallen (including hygienists) likely from older folks leaving the work force. Hygienists are in incredible demand. HPI (ADA’s Health Policy Institute) has reported that 1/3 of all dentists in March were recruiting hygienists with 92% of offices claiming recruitment was extremely challenging. Hygienists average $81K a year annually and every west-coast state reported average hygienists making about $100K a year at about $50/ hour in 2021. It is a very good time to be a hygienist.
2.) Average general dentist pay has dropped significantly just from 2019 from $178K / year on average to $167K in 2021. Post COVID concerns as well as inflation are likely affecting dental patients’ money decisions.
3.) The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ found that from February to March, dental offices lost 1,500 jobs, the first decrease in the dental sector since April 2020. HPI’s Economic Outlook and Emerging Issues in Dentistry stated that staffing shortages at dental practices have led to ~11% decrease in practice capacity.
Despite how the above points might sound doom and gloom, dentistry is still projected by the BLS to grow about as quickly as the general economy with an 8% growth until 2030. There is still opportunity to be had! It just might take a bit more effort than normal for dentists. If you’re a hygienist, this is the golden age.