This study was based on a representative national sample of more than 1,600 residential facilities serving individuals with developmental disabilities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The mean starting wage for direct-care workers in publicly operated institutions in FY 1990 was approximately 31% more than the wage for similar workers in privately operated facilities. The mean starting wage in private facilities was only about 3% above the poverty level for a family of three. Wages, in real economic terms, have declined significantly during the last decade. The wage differential between public and private facilities has doubled during the past 10 years. Implications of these findings for the field and for future research were discussed.