The demand for direct-care workers will continue to outpace labor supply through the decade, according to a report from the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI).
With as many as 3.3 million workers—including nursing home aides, home health aides and personal care aides—employed in 2010, PHI projects that 1.6 million new positions will arise by 2020.
“Pressure is building to improve the quality of direct-care jobs,” says PHI Policy Research Director Dorie Seavey, Ph.D.
The economy’s demand for direct-care workers according to Seavey, means that it is more essential than ever to attract people to these jobs by making them competitive with other occupations.
By 2020, PHI projects that the direct-care workforce will outnumber all retail sales workers as well as all teachers from kindergarten through high school.
Care aides are also expected to be the fastest-growing occupations in the nation between 2010 and 2020, PHI notes, increasing by 71% and 69%, respectively.
Personal care aides and home health aides rank third and fourth on the list of the top ten occupations projected to generate the most jobs, and outsized growth will result in home and community-based care workers outnumbering facility workers 2:1 by the end of this decade.
Despite rapidly projected growth, the growing demand for these workers has had little impact on wages.
In 2011, he average hourly wage for all direct-care workers was $10.59.
Since public funding represents 70% of spending on long-term care services, PHI recommends that federal and state policymakers take action to ensure that those who provide these care services receive not only “decent” wages, but also benefits along with high-quality training.
Written by Jason Oliva