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Wages Continue to Fall for Personal Care Aides, New PHI State-by-State Analysis Shows

December 19, 2014

— New PHI Web Tool Depicts National Landscape of Direct-Care Wages —

Bronx, NY — Wages for personal care aides (PCAs) declined between 2003 and 2013 in most states, a new PHI analysis of wages for PCAs found.

The national median wage for PCAs was $9.67 in 2013 — down 5 percent from an inflation-adjusted median wage of $10.09 in 2003, according to the state-by-state analysis reported in the PHI State Chart Book on Wages for Personal Care Aides, 2003-2013.

"These wage trends are disturbing," said PHI Director of Policy Research Abby Marquand. "The demand for personal care aides is expected to surpass that of nearly every other job over the next 10 years. With wages falling, it is going to be exceedingly difficult to recruit the workforce we need."

PCAs provide long-term services and supports, such as bathing, toileting, dressing, shopping, cooking, and transportation, to older adults and people living with disabilities in home and community-based settings.

In total, 37 states and the District of Columbia saw decreases in median PCA wages over the course of the last decade.

In nine states, PCA wages fell by 10 percent or more. Rhode Island experienced the largest decline — 26.7 percent over the past decade, followed by New Mexico, with a 19.6 percent decrease.

In 46 states, median hourly wages for PCAs were below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Line wage for individuals in one-person households. Wages this low, combined with the part-time hours worked by most PCAs, result in more than 50 percent of these workers living in households that rely on public assistance programs.

Only seven states saw inflation-adjusted PCA wages increase by 5 percent or more from 2003 to 2013, which suggests that few states are making progress in improving the competitiveness of PCA wages in low‐wage labor markets.

PCAs are projected to be the source of the most new jobs in the nation's economy between 2003 and 2013.

"If we want to make sure that we have a sufficient and stable personal care workforce to be there for the people we care about, we can't afford to undervalue these essential workers any longer," Marquand said.

PHI used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to conduct the new PCA wage analysis.

Direct-Care Worker Wages in Every State: New PHI Tool

PHI recently launched new web-based tools to illustrate the national landscape of wages for personal care aides, home health aides, and nursing assistants — collectively, the direct-care workforce. The new resource includes, for each state:

  • direct-care workers' wages,
  • data on wage changes over the past decade, and
  • comparisons of direct-care workers' wages to poverty thresholds typically used to determine eligibility for public assistance.

Maps and charts are downloadable both in PDF and Tableau Public format. For more information on direct-care workers in on a state-by-state basis, visit the PHI State Data Center.

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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; 646-285-1039

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