To keep pace with the expanding senior population, 1.6 million direct-care workers will need to be added to the existing workforce by 2020, according to a recently updated PHI (Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute) fact sheet.
As of 2010, there were currently about 3.4 million in the direct-care workforce, according to long-term employment projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and that number will need to grow to nearly 5 million to meet demand.
Demand is certainly growing, as the nation shifts away from institutional care and toward home- and community-based care. By 2020, 68% of direct-care workers will work in home- and community-based settings, up from 61% in 2010, according to PHI.
“The growth of the home and community-based sector, in which aides tend to earn lower wages and have fewer benefits than in facility-based settings, demands particular attention,” the report says.
This shift is expected to continue throughout upcoming decades, says the PHI fact sheet, but that could pose a problem: Unless job quality in this field is improved, demand for new workers won’t be met.
“Our analysis indicates that demand for direct-care workers…will continue to outpace supply dramatically—unless policymakers and employers work together to make these jobs competitively attractive compared to other occupations,” the report says.
Demand for services is growing faster than the labor pool, says PHI, as the number of women aged 25-54—the main labor pool that supplies direct-care workers—will only increase by about 1% compared to demand for these workers increasing by 48%.
If the direct-care workforce does add 1.6 million new workers by 2020, it will be the single-largest occupational grouping in the country, according to PHI, just ahead of retail salespersons.
Personal care aides and home health aides are projected to be the fastest-growing occupations in the country between 2010 and 2010, expanding by 71% and 69%, respectively.
Written by Alyssa Gerace