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Direct-care workers outpacing labor supply throughout nation

06.04.13

JUNE 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Direct-care workers outpacing labor supply throughout nation

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, May 20th- The demand for direct-care workers, particularly those employed in home and community settings, will continue to outpace supply, states the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), a national group that studies the direct-care industry and workforce.

According to data provided by PHI, as many as 3.3 million direct-care workers, including nursing home aides, home health aids, and personal care aides, were employed in 2010 and 1.6 million new positions are projected by 2020. The direct-care workforce is projected to be the nation’s largest occupational grouping by 2020.

Direct-care occupations will outnumber all retail sales workers as well as all teachers from kindergarten through high school.

“Pressure is building to improve the quality of diect-care jobs. The economy’s booming demand for direct-care workers, particularly home health aides and personal care aides, means that it is now essential than ever to attrack workers to these jobs by making them competitive with other occupations. This is especially true at this time when fewer women are entering the labor force,” stated PHI Policy Research Director Dorie Seavey, Ph.D.

Demand for direct-care workers is projected to increase by 48 percent during this decade, but the main labor pool from which the workforce is drawn, women aged 25-54, is expected to grow by only 1 percent. This compares to a 14 percent increase in the number of women in this group from 1988 to 1998, PHI analysis indicates.

Personal care aides and home health aides are projected to be the fastest growing occupations in the nation between 2010 and 2012, increasing by 71 percent and 69 percent, respectively.

Personal care aides and home health aides rank third and fourth on the list of top ten occupations projected to generate the most jobs. This growth will result in home and community-based direct-care workers outnumbering facility workers by two to one by the end of the decade.

However, even with the demand for this workers, they remain among the lowest paid workers in the nation, averaging $10.59 per hour.