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Study indicates direct-care workforce will be nation’s largest by by 2020


JULY 2012, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Study indicates direct-care workforce will be nation’s largest by by 2020


REGION, June 9th- According to a analysis by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), Bronx, New York, by 2020 direct-care workforce is projected to be the nation’s largest workforce at 5 million workers. Direct care workers are nursing assistants, home health aides, and personal care aides.

Direct-care occupations are expected to add an additional 1.6 million jobs to the economy over the decade from 2010-2020 but the wages for these jobs continue to decline and the number of workers without health care coverage has increased, stated PHI Policy Research Directer Dorie Seavey.

“It’s quite striking that probably the largest workforce ever produced by our economy is largely made of women who struggle with inadequate conditions of employment as they try to make ends meet,” said Ms. Seavey, who conducted the analysis with Policy Research Analyst Abby Marquand.

Home-care jobs, both home health aide and personal care positions, are the nation’s fastest growing jobs, projected to increase over the decade from 2010 to 2020 at an 69 percent to 71 percent, respectively.

Home health aides and personal care aides rank third and fourth on the list of occupations expected to generate the most new jobs to the economy over the period.

Direct-care workers far outnumber other health care practitioners, including physicians, nurses, and therapists, comprising nearly a third of the entire United States health-care workforce in 2011.

These workers also outnumber, by nearly three to one, all those employed in allied health occupations, such as medical and dental assistants, and physical therapy assistants and aides.

The Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute researchers estimate that there are at least 800,000 independent providers who provide personal care services for consumers enrolled in Medicaid based settings. These workers, employed directly by consumers and their families in home and community based settings, are not tracked by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consequently, independent providers have been heavily undercounted in government surveys.

“There are two basic models for delivering in-home services and supports in the United State today; an agency model and an independent provider model.

The latter has two broad variants, private and public. The size of the private strand is extremely difficult to measure since so many private arrangements are not reported, but publicly funded arrangements can and should be accounted for, substantial numbers of workers and consumers are involved in this sector” stated Ms. Marquand.

According to the United States Department of Labor, the median wage of $10.59 in 2011 for all direct-care workers is far below the median wage for all workers, $16.57. Also, adjusted for inflation, wages for these workers occupations have declined over the last decade.

Personal care aides and home health aides earned a median wage of $9.49 and $9.91 per hour, respectively. The wages for these home-care occupations are less than the median hourly wages of $11.63 for nursing aides, orderlies, and attendents.

The number of direct-care workers without healthcare coverage in 2010 increased to 950,000, up from 900,000 the previous year.

Also, research indicated more than one third of aides employed by home-care agencies and one in four nursing home aides lacked healthcare coverage in 2011.

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