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New PHI Research Brief Focuses on Detroit’s Direct Care Workers

August 16, 2017

PHI just released issue 13 in its #60CaregiverIssues campaign, a national public education campaign to tackle the growing workforce shortage in paid caregiving. The newest issue brief—Direct Care Workers in Detroit: Key Facts—provides a condensed overview  of the direct care workforce in Detroit.

The research brief reveals consistently high demand for direct care workers over the past decade in Detroit—even as the city lost  jobs uncontrollably during the economic recession of 2007 to 2009. While the number of nursing assistants (20,370) remained constant, the home care workforce (personal care aides and home health aides) grew by 57 percent, from 17,040 in 2005 to 26,820 in 2015.

These employment trends will continue. From 2012 to 2022, direct care occupations will add 12,290 jobs, more than any other occupation. Demand is driven by a rapidly growing population of older adults, many of whom require support from direct care workers.

Detroit faces steep challenges in meeting demand, as our new research reveals. Direct care jobs are poor quality. Inflation-adjusted wages have either stagnated or declined over the past decade. Many direct care workers work part-time or for part of the year, which means their annual incomes are low. Thus, many workers live in poverty and rely on public assistance. Job seekers can often find comparable or better opportunities in manufacturing, customer service, and retail, given that unemployment in the city has returned to prerecession levels.

Yet not everyone has benefited from the economic recovery. For example, unemployment remains high among Black/African American people and people who only have a high school education or less, according to PHI analysis of American Community Survey data. Creating better quality direct care jobs could provide unemployed people with economic opportunities, while ensuring the city’s caregiving infrastructure can meet the new demand for long-term care.

Read the research brief here.

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