The aging population of baby boomers looks to spark a surging demand in the number of home health aides by 2020, CNN Money reports.
On track to become the nation’s fastest growing job, the U.S. Labor Department projects that home health workers will experience a 70% increase between 2010 and 2020.
But even though the demand for home health aides is expected to increase to meet the demands of a massive boomer population, these workers still face roadblocks in wages and benefits that the country will need to address in the coming years.
CNN Money writes:
But even though there are plenty of job opportunities, many of these people make the same wage as teenagers flipping burgers or selling clothes at the mall. The average hourly wage is just $9.70 an hour, according to the Labor Department.
For those in the industry who work full-time, this amounts to roughly $20,000 a year. Many health care aides only work part-time though — and they do not receive benefits.
Under these conditions, it’s no surprise then that about 40% of home aides rely on public assistance, such as Medicaid and food stamps, just to get by.
Many home health care aides are exempt from federal minimum wage and overtime laws, due to a little-known provision in the Fair Labor Standards Act passed in 1974, which puts them in the same category as casual babysitters. The Obama administration has been trying to change that over the past two years, but its efforts have been met fiercely with lobbying from the industry.
If the industry is forced to pay minimum wage and overtime to home health aides, CNN notes, workers’ hours could be restricted to 40 hours a week or less, which could in turn lead to a reduction in pay for live-in workers.
The industry also disputes the government’s claim that it would only cost an extra $166 per worker a year to comply with federal minimum wage and overtime regulations, CNN writes.
Written by Jason Oliva