Caregiver Shortage Could Mean 7.8 Million Unfilled Jobs By 2026

The nationwide shortage of caregivers continues to be one of the biggest industry-wide problems for home health and home care agencies, with no end in sight. And in the future, the employment crunch could become even worse than previously expected.

That’s according to a new report from Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), a worker advocacy organization focused on the direct care workforce, which consists of personal care aides, home health aides and nursing assistants.

In addition to job growth, the authors incorporated turnover data, both of caregivers transferring careers and those leaving the workforce all together. Annual average turnover data was then multiplied by 10 to calculate future projections, according to the report.

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The goal was to paint a more complete picture of future demand for caregivers, as past projections focus largely on industry demand for new workers alone, not how many current workers will also need to be replaced.

From 2016 to 2026, there will be 7.8 million direct care openings, according to the report, which is based on projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Of those positions, 1.4 million will be created due to industry growth, 3.6 million will be the result of employees leaving the labor force and 2.8 million will be workers leaving for other jobs outside the field.

Additionally, growth within the direct care workforce will outpace every other occupation in the country, adding the greatest number of new jobs in 38 states from 2016 to 2026, according to the report.

“The direct care workforce will grow more than registered nurses and fast food workers combined, which are ranked second and third for net job growth according to the BLS,” the report reads. “Of note, the total direct care workforce will be larger than any single occupation in 2026.”

California, New York and Texas will see the largest direct care job growth by 2026, adding 274,700, 190,550 and 126,140 direct care jobs, respectively. Additionally, personal care aides alone will be the largest single occupation in California, Minnesota, New Mexico and Vermont in 2026, according to the report.

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