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Home Care Jobs Top List of Occupations Projected to Create the Most New Jobs, Yet Pay the Least

December 10, 2014

— With 1.3 Million New Direct-Care Jobs Anticipated, Nation's Long-Term Care System at Risk Unless Direct-Care Jobs are Made Competitively Attractive —

Bronx, NY — Personal care aides are expected to be the source of the largest number of new jobs across the U.S. economy over the next decade. Nearly 600,000 new personal care aides will be needed between 2012-2022, according to a new PHI analysis on occupational projections for the direct-care workforce — home health aides, personal care aides, and nursing assistants.

Growth for the home health aide occupation 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, together known as home care workers, will be the second and third fastest-growing occupations in the nation, respectively, increasing by nearly one half over this same period, the analysis found.

Home care workers provide essential long-term services and supports — such as bathing, dressing, preparing meals, and transportation — that make it possible for elders and people living with disabilities to live independently where they prefer to reside: at home and in community-based settings.

"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 2012-2022. Only fast-food workers earn a lower median hourly wage.

Nursing assistants, direct-care workers who are typically employed in nursing homes, 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, making it the second largest occupational group in the nation.

"To build a quality and stable workforce that our nation's elders and people living with disabilities need, federal and state policymakers must act now to ensure that direct-care workers receive better wages and benefits and high-quality training," Marquand said.

"Particular attention must be paid to the workers employed in the home and community-based sector where aides tend to earn less and have fewer benefits than those working in facilities," Marquand said.

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 PHI Facts 1: Occupational Projections for Direct-Care Workers 2012-2022.

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PHI, the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, works to transform eldercare and disability services, fostering dignity, respect, and independence — for all who receive care, and all who provide it. The nation's leading authority on the direct-care workforce, PHI promotes quality direct-care jobs as the foundation for quality care.

Deane Beebe, PHI Media Relations Director; 718-928-2033; 646-285-1039 (cell)

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