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Study: Almost One-Third of Direct-Care Jobs Will be Held by Older Women by 2018

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, March 17, 2010

Older women aged 55 and older will become 30% of the nation's direct-care workforce by 2018—up from 22% in 2008, according to a new study by PHI, the long-term care workforce development consultants.

This is not surprising because the nation's workforce is aging and PHI expects that 1.2 million direct-care workers will be women aged 55 and over by 2018.

"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, in a media release.

"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. 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," Dawson said.

In 2008, the median hourly wage for direct-care workers was $10.42, which is more than one-third 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, PHI said.

Direct-care workers, who are 90% female, tend to be older than women in the nation's overall workforce—22% of direct-care workers were age 55 and older in 2008 compared to 18% for the overall female workforce. An even larger proportion—28%—of personal and home care aides were aged 55 or older in 2008.

The PHI projections were made using data from the 2009 U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, and applying the information to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections Program, 2008-18 National Employment Matrix.


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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