Direct caregivers will make up nation's largest workforce by 2020, analysis predicts

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Direct care workers, a group that includes nursing assistants, home health aides and personal care aides, are expected to comprise the United States' largest workforce by 2020, according to a new analysis.

The U.S. economy can expect to add 1.6 million caregiving jobs between 2010 and 2020, for a total of five million workers by 2020, according to researchers from PHI, a direct care worker advocacy group. However, while job growth in this sector is good for those looking for work, the wages that accompany these jobs are expected to be on the low side, the researchers said.

In 2011, the median wage for all direct care workers of $10.59 per hour was well below the median wage ($16.57) for all U.S. workers that year. What's more, the number of direct care workers without healthcare coverage in 2010 increased to 950,000, up from 900,000 the previous year.

“It's quite striking that probably the largest workforce ever produced by our economy is largely made up of women who struggle with inadequate conditions of employment as they try to make ends meet,” PHI Policy Research Director Dorie Seavey said in a statement.

Additionally, the analysis predicts that by 2020, direct care workers who work in home- and community-based settings will outnumber direct care workers in long-term care facilities by more than 2 to 1.

Click here to read the full PHI report.