One of the top issues in the news recently is immigration, with changes in protected status for immigrants from countries such as Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras; uncertainty for undocumented immigrants who arrived as children; limitations on immigration from several predominantly Muslin countries; and potential changes to family reunification processes.
The New York Times highlighted the impact of immigration on the elder care industry, both official structured agencies and the larger informal direct employment segment.
Increasingly, direct caregiving job openings are attracting fewer candidates. A growing economy has led to native-born Americans opting instead for better paying, less physically demanding work in other fields. This leaves openings often filled by immigrants, many of whom have increasingly uncertain status.
PHI (Protected Health Information) points out that one in four workers in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home care agencies are foreign-born. Shares are thought to be even higher in the informal sector. In states such as California, Florida, New Jersey, and New York, more than 40 percent of direct care workers are foreign-born.
According to Freedonia Group analyst Jennifer Mapes-Christ, “the formal elder care industry will require nearly 6.1 million employees by 2021 to accommodate the growing need for these services. This need will be driven largely by an aging population, particularly as the large baby boomer demographic advances into age cohorts that require a greater level of care.”
She continued, “Many consumers worry about who will take care of them and how much of a burden they will be on their families as they age. As a result, Americans are more open than ever to hiring professional caregivers when it is available and they can afford it.”
Mapes-Christ added, “However, finding, hiring, retaining, and supporting staff is an ongoing concern for elder care services providers. Employee turnover is one of the largest issues facing most of these service providers. The physical and emotional demands of the job, coupled with a lack of professional advancement opportunities, are the most oft-cited reasons for this turnover. Changes in immigration policy will affect the size of the pool of potential employees, possibly resulting in service shortages, particularly in rural areas, or wages hikes that would drive up costs if providers are unable to attract enough qualified workers.”
Additional analysis of employment in the US elder care industry can be found in the following Freedonia report: Elder Care Services in the US.