A new report released by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute states that a quarter of all health care workers live in poverty because of a lack of living wages and basic benefits.
Titled “U.S. Home Care Workers: Key Facts,” the study acknowledges that home care is one of the faster growing professions in the country, but wages and benefits haven’t caught up to the demand. According to the report, home care workers make an average hourly wage of $10.11, with an average annual salary of $13,330.
The PHI’s report also states that half of home care workers rely on some form of public assistance. Eighty-nine percent of home care workers are female and more than half of all home care workers are people of color. Twenty-four percent of home care workers live in households below the federal poverty line compared with 9 percent of all American workers.
Home care jobs include personal care aides, home health aides and nursing assistants.
The home care workforce, while doubling in size the past decade, has shifted its primary location of business from places such as nursing homes to private homes and communities. The PHI’s report states that by the year 2050, the population of people over the age of 65 will be nearly double the current number (47.8 million).
“Recruiting adequate numbers of home care workers to fill these jobs is becoming increasingly difficult, as evidenced by continual reports of workforce shortages,” said the report. “One reason for the shortages is the poor quality of home care jobs: wages are low and access to employer-provided benefits is rare.”
The PHI’s study states that the median age of home care workers is 45, nearly one-quarter of home care workers were born outside of the United States and more than half of home care workers have a “high school degree or less.” But the lack of formal education required for these jobs is what makes them attractive to workers who have trouble finding employment because of language barriers.
The PHI’s study also notes that although 600,000 new home care jobs are expected to be created by the industry in the next 10 years, those jobs might not come with better wages and benefits.
“High demand has done little to increase wages for home care aides,” stated the report.
In an op-ed for the Huffington Post, PHI Vice President of Policy Robert Espinoza lamented that the home care industry rakes in tens of billions annually and nursing homes generate hundreds of billions of dollars, but the workers don’t see much of that money.
“Unfortunately, these industries’ profits don’t trickle down,” Espinoza wrote.