Close to 20% of nursing home assistants are living below the federal poverty line, a result of low wages and part-time positions, according to a new report.
The Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute report noted wages for these workers had “barely kept up with inflation” over the past decade. The average hourly wage for a direct care worker was $12.34 in 2016, compared to $12.35 in 2006, the report found.
Comparatively, 7% of workers across all industries live below the poverty line, the PHI data showed. The group released its annual direct care data report on Wednesday.
Half of nursing assistants work part time, or part of the year, which contributes to their poverty, PHI noted. Nearly 40% rely on some form of public assistance, similar to the findings of last year’s report.
“Despite the profound support they offer to millions of older people and people with disabilities nationwide, direct care workers remain undervalued and poorly compensated,” PHI President Jodi M. Sturgeon said in a statement. “Our country needs to improve wages and hours, provide more training and career paths, and implement workforce innovations that transform this sector — improving care for all of us.”
The PHI report also reiterated last year’s finding that nursing assistants will contribute to the skilled nursing sector’s employment growth more than any other position in the coming years. The data predicts new nursing assistant jobs will make up 39% of total employment growth in the sector, adding to the more than 600,000 frontline positions currently held in the U.S.
Click here to read the full PHI report, which also includes data on workers’ insurance coverage, injury rates, education and demographics.