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ANALYSIS: Home Care Leads in Job Creation, Yet Jobs Pay Poorly

December 11, 2014

Personal care aides (PCAs) are expected to be the source of the largest number of new jobs across the U.S. economy over the next decade, with nearly 600,000 new PCAs needed, according to a new PHI analysis reported in Facts 1: Occupational Projections for Direct-Care Workers 2012-2022.

Growth for home health aides will also be dramatic — it ranks fourth on the list of occupations expected to add the most new jobs, with over 424,000 new jobs anticipated.

Personal care aides and home health aides will be the second and third fastest-growing occupations in the nation, respectively, increasing by nearly one half over this same period.

“With the aging of the baby boomers, the demand for home care workers will continue to dramatically outpace supply, especially as the pool of informal caregivers — family and friends — continues to shrink and rates of chronic illness rise,” said Abby Marquand, PHI policy research director.

“Policymakers and employers must work together to make these jobs more competitively attractive than other jobs with equivalent entry-level requirements, to meet the rapidly growing need for this essential workforce,” Marquand said.

Despite the increasing demand for home and community-based long-term services and supports, personal care aides and home health aides are paid among the lowest wages — $9.67 and $10.10 per hour, respectively — of the occupations with the most job growth projected between 2012 and 2022. Only fast-food workers earn a lower median hourly wage.

Nursing assistants rank sixth of the occupations anticipated to produce the most new jobs during the same decade, with over 312,000 new jobs projected. Nursing assistants earn a median hourly wage of $11.97, PHI reports.

With overall demand for direct-care workers projected to increase by 37 percent from 2012-2022, a total of 1.3 million new direct-care positions are projected. The direct-care workforce will grow to nearly 5 million workers, exceeding teachers, public safety officers, and registered nurses, and making it the second largest occupational group in the nation.

For more information on national occupational projections for the direct-care workforce, including employment by selected industries, the “care gap,” and sources used for the analysis, see Facts 1: Occupational Projections for Direct-Care Workers 2012-2022.

— by Deane Beebe

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