Low pay and poor working conditions are the norm for long-term care workers, according to a report released Wednesday by the Economic Policy Institute think tank.
The researchers collected data on employment levels, demographics, earnings, poverty rates and unionization of workers. The field is dominated by women, especially black and immigrant women, the authors said.
Their main conclusions:
- 80.9% of long-term care workers are women.
- 22.4% are black women and 12.8% are immigrant women.
- $15.22 is the median hourly pay rate, lower than the US median hourly wage of $20.07.
- 7.2% live in poverty, a higher percentage than the poverty rate for all workers (5.3%).
- 6.9% are covered by a union agreement, a rate lower than that of the overall workforce (11.9%).
Employment in long-term care is 400,000 jobs below pre-pandemic levels, accounting for about a third of private sector jobs lost since the start of the pandemic, researchers say.
“For too long, our society has devalued the elderly and people with disabilities and the workers who help them lead richer, more independent lives. It is no coincidence that women – especially women of color and immigrants – do much of this hands-on care work, paid and unpaid, at home and in long-term care facilities,” said Julia Wolfe, former state economic analyst for PPE. and co-author of the report.
Long-term care workers are also less likely than other workers to have access to employer-sponsored pension plans (24.7% vs. 35.1% of other workers) or health insurance (45.0% of other workers). .4% vs. 50.7% of other workers), according to PPE. .
“Benefit access rates are particularly low for women and non-US citizens in this industry,” the report authors noted.
Additionally, the data shows that long-term care workers are slightly more likely to hold multiple jobs than the overall workforce (6.6% vs. 5.1%), particularly workers direct care and licensed practical nurses (7.2% each), as well as Black workers (8%) and Asian American and Pacific Islander workers (7.9%).
According to the researchers, increased public funding is one response to ensure higher wages, better workforces and better working conditions for workers. They also called on policymakers to raise the minimum wage and strengthen protections for workers seeking to organize a union.
Public funding, according to Marokey Sawo, EPI’s state economic analyst and co-author of the report, could also ensure “adequate access and quality of care for those who need it, regardless of their level of income or wealth”.