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Bloomberg News Spotlights Home Care Aides’ Jobs and Low Wages

November 26, 2013

A Bloomberg News article published on November 21 exposes the harsh reality of trying to live on the low wages that home care aides earn, and highlights the compassion and array of skills that home care workers bring to their work.

In 2012, personal care aides — the fastest-growing occupation in the nation — made an average hourly wage of $10.01, reports Bloomberg Boston Bureau Chief Tom Moroney in “Home-Care Aides at Poverty’s Edge Are Hottest U.S. Jobs.” When adjusted for inflation, wages for this occupation fell 5 percent over a decade, he adds.

Moroney spotlights Amanda Sheppard (pictured above), a hardworking home care aide in Vermont who depends on church dinners, free school lunches, and skillful food shopping to feed her family of four. Sheppard, like 50 percent of home care workers, depends on public assistance to make ends meet.

Moroney writes about the part-time nature of home care jobs and the unpredictability of hours that a home care aide is employed each week.

“I know what’s going to happen with my paycheck and we never know what’s going to happen with hers,” says Sheppard’s partner, who would like Amanda to get another job.

Despite the poor wages, Sheppard enjoys her job and takes pride in the range of services and supports she provides to her clients, each of whom has different needs. Moroney sums up some of Sheppard’s many skills by referring to her as a “combination groomer, cook, housekeeper, guardian and friend.”

Accompanying the article are two videos in which Sheppard and Malrissa Perkins, a home care worker in Lincoln, Massachusetts, each talk about what being a home care worker entails.

— by Deane Beebe

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