Home care workers in New York recently received a $2-per-hour raise as part of a statewide effort by politicians and advocates to address a home care crisis. New York has one of the nation’s biggest shortages of home health aides. According to a survey by the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Association of New York, 74% of elderly and disabled individuals in 2021 were unable to retain home care employees.
Nationwide, these jobs are often low paying. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, PCAs and other home healthcare workers in the United States are only paid $13.02 per hour. Additionally, one out of every five home care workers, according to the New York Times, lives below the federal poverty line, and they make an average of $11 per hour in six states.
The shortage is only expected to worsen. By 2025, the home care industry will require an additional 450,000 home health care aides to meet the growing demand for services as millions of baby boomers approach their 70s and may need more help at home.
The wage increase went into effect on Oct. 1 as part of measures adopted earlier this year during the state budget process. It came after activists fought for higher pay for aides to help resolve home care shortages that affect elderly and disabled New Yorkers, as well as their families. The new minimum wage for home care aides is now $17 per hour in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County and $15.20 per hour for the rest of the state.
Without my PCA, I wouldn’t be able to live in my apartment. Home healthcare allows people like me to live in our community rather than in a long-term care facility or group home. It is more cost-effective as well. Nursing home care costs an average of $7,756 per month for a semi-private room. The average monthly cost for a private room is $8,821. This adds up to $93,072 and $105,852 a year, respectively.
I would be devastated if I had to go into a nursing home. I wouldn’t be able to go out to lunch or choose what I ate for dinner. My family and friends would only be able to visit me at certain times. I wouldn’t be able to go to the movie theater, grocery store, or mall. I wouldn’t be able to leave on my own.
My PCAs are very important to me. They are an invaluable part of my life. People like me wouldn’t be able to live in our communities without the proper support staff. Wages need to increase now because care can’t wait!
Donovan, Liz, and Muriel Alarcón. “Long Hours, Low Pay, Loneliness and a Booming Industry.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 Sept. 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/25/business/home-health-aides-industry.html.
“Home Health and Personal Care Aides: Occupational Outlook Handbook.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8 Sept. 2021, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home-health-aides-and-personal-care-aides.htm.
Parker, Tim. “The Median Cost of a Nursing Home.” The Balance, The Balance, 25 Oct. 2021, https://www.thebalance.com/average-cost-of-a-nursing-home-4177589.
Robinson, David. “NY Home Aides Get Minimum Wage Increase as State Faces Caregiver Crisis.” The Journal News, Gannett, 18 Oct. 2022, https://www.lohud.com/story/news/health/2022/10/18/ny-home-aides-get-minimum-wage-increase-what-you-need-to-know/69568555007/.
Taddeo, Sarah. “Caregiver Shortage: ‘No Pool of People to Pull from Now’.” Buffalo News, Buffalo News, 11 June 2022, https://buffalonews.com/business/local/caregiver-shortage-no-pool-of-people-to-pull-from-now/article_769c12ce-e754-11ec-a974-4f66fec59629.html.