Despite vocal outcries by home care workers for a higher minimum wage, and the belief that doing so can have an overall positive impact on the economy, wages for both U.S. home care workers and nursing assistants have either stagnated or “barely kept up with inflation over the last 10 years,” according to research conducted by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, Inc. (PHI), a national research and consulting organization serving the direct care industry based in The Bronx, New York.
The median hourly wage of a U.S. home care worker is $10.49, with many typically earning $13,800 annually due to inconsistent work hours, PHI found.
Nursing assistants working in nursing homes, on the other hand, earn a median hourly wage of $12.34, with an annual median income of $20,000.
Jodi M. Sturgeon, president of PHI, believes that these wages indicate that direct care workers “remain undervalued and poorly compensated.”
“Our country needs to improve wages and hours, provide more training and career paths and implement workforce innovations that transform this sector,” she said in a press release.
Other findings in the PHI report include:
— 68% of home care workers work part time or for part of the year, while 53% of nursing assistants working in nursing homes are in a similar working arrangement;
— 23% of home care workers, and 17% of nursing assistants, live below the federal poverty line;
— 52% of home care workers, and 39% of nursing assistants, rely on public aid; and
— Roughly 9 in 10 home care workers and nursing assistants are women, more than half (58% and 54%, respectively) are people of color, and 28% are immigrants.
The home care workforce has doubled in size in the past 10 years in the wake of the delivery of long-term care services and support shifting from institutional settings to private homes and communities, according to PHI.
The research was released as part of the organization’s #60CaregiverIssues campaign, a two-year public education initiative focusing on solving the home care industry’s workforce shortage.
Written by Carlo Calma