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PRESS RELEASE: Nearly One-Third of Direct-Care Jobs Will Be Held by Older Women (3/17/10)

March 17, 2010

New York, NY — Older women aged 55+ are projected to become 30 percent of the nation's direct-care workforce by 2018 — up from 22 percent in just ten years, according to PHI's recent analysis of employment demographics for direct-care workers.

By 2018, 1.2 million direct-care workers are expected to be women aged 55 and over.

The significant increase in older direct-care workers (nursing home assistants, home health aides, and personal and home care aides) is anticipated in part because the workforce overall is growing dramatically — from 3.2 million to 4.3 million workers.

Older women in particular are expected to be more prevalent in the direct-care workforce because the nation's entire workforce is aging.

"Older women are increasingly providing frontline services and supports for frail elders and people with disabilities to live independently and with dignity," said PHI President Steven Dawson, who will report on older direct-care workers today, at the National Council on Aging/American Society on Aging's joint conference in Chicago.

"National and state policymakers must work together to ensure that direct-care jobs, which are primarily funded through public dollars, are quality jobs that attract a stable, compassionate workforce," said Dawson. "Without these workers, families will not be able to provide the support elders need to live independently and to continue to enjoy the relationships and activities that give their lives meaning."

In 2008, the median hourly wage for all direct-care workers was $10.42, which is significantly less than $15.57, the median wage for all U.S. workers. Without competitive wages, the older women who are filling these positions today are likely to look elsewhere for employment.

Direct-care workers, who are 90 percent female, tend to be older than females in the nation's overall workforce — 22 percent of direct-care workers were aged 55+ in 2008 compared to 18 percent for the overall female workforce. An even greater proportion (28.1 percent) of personal and home care aides were aged 55 or older in 2008.

The projections were made by Dorie Seavey, Ph.D., director of policy research at PHI, by analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), 2009 Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement, and applying the information to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections Program, 2008-18 National Employment Matrix.

More information about the direct-care workforce, including The Direct-Care Worker at a Glance (pdf), fact sheets, reports, and a Chart Gallery, are available on PHI's PolicyWorks website.



PHI ( works to improve the lives of people who need home and residential care—and the lives of the workers who provide that care. Using our workplace and policy expertise, we help consumers, workers, employers, and policymakers improve eldercare and disability services by creating quality direct-care jobs. Our goal is to ensure caring, stable relationships between consumers and workers, so that both may live with dignity, respect, and independence.

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Deane Beebe, PHI Media Relations Director

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