Download U.S. Home Care Workers: Key Facts (pdf)
Doubled in Size
The home care workforce—primarily comprised of women and people of color—has doubled in size over the past 10 years as the delivery of long-term services and supports has increasingly shifted from institutional settings, such as nursing homes, to private homes and communities.
PHI estimates that in addition to the home care workers tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 800,000 independent providers are employed directly by consumers through publicly funded consumer-directed programs. These workers bring the total home care workforce to approximately 2.2 million workers.
Recruiting adequate numbers of home care workers to fill these jobs is becoming increasingly difficult, as evidenced by continual reports of workforce shortages. One reason for the shortages is the poor quality of home care jobs: wages are low and access to employer-provided benefits is rare. As a result, one in four home care workers lives below the federal poverty line (FPL) and over half rely on some form of public assistance.
With greater demand for home care services, and a labor force that is experiencing little growth, a significant care gap is emerging: insufficient numbers of workers to provide home care services. In coming years, the rapidly growing population of older adults will drive demand for home care workers even higher.
By 2050, the population of people over the age of 65 will nearly double, from 47.8 million to 88 million. In this context, the issue of job quality becomes increasingly important. If the home care workforce is to grow, jobs will need to be more competitive, offering higher wages and improved working conditions.