Immigrants and the Caregiver Crisis

Erick Widman

The American Immigration Council has analyzed U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data and found that the home health and personal care aides occupation is one of the fastest growing jobs. This is due to the increasing senior population in the country, with about 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day and 7 in 10 expected to need long-term care in their lifetime. As a result, the number of home health and personal care aide jobs is expected to grow by 25.4% in the next decade, becoming the largest occupation in the country by 2031.

However, the available workforce is not growing at the same rate, and it is estimated that there will be a shortage of nearly three-quarters of a million home health and personal care aides every year through 2031. Immigrant workers currently fill these jobs in large numbers, but without more workers joining the workforce, the shortage of aides could leave millions of Americans without the ability to remain in their homes when they need long-term care.

Despite the growing demand for the workforce, the country’s pool of available workers is barely growing, and the demanding nature of the job leads to high turnover rates. Home health and personal care aides suffer from higher-than-average injury rates and cite high stress and low pay. They earn less than just about every other healthcare support occupation, with a median annual wage of $29,430 in 2021.

Efforts are underway in some states to mandate higher wages for home health and personal care aides, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced funding to strengthen home and community healthcare services. However, policies to attract and provide support for more foreign-born health aides are also necessary, given that immigrants currently play an outsized role in providing care for the senior and disabled population.

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