Home Care Aides’ Salaries Near Poverty

More and more personal and home care aides (PHCA) are being paid wages that put them at risk of falling below the poverty line, according to a recent salary analysis.

Between 1999 and 2009, wages for PHCA rose from a national median of $7.50 an hour to $9.26 an hour, or roughly 26%. But after adjusting for inflation, real wages were essentially unchanged, according to the updated PHI State Chart Book on Wages for Personal and Home Care Aides. In 2009, wages in 36 states fell below 200% of the federal poverty level, or roughly $10.42 per hour. Workers receiving these wages are eligible for many state and federal public assistance programs.

The PHI Chart Book tracks wages in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and presents an entire decade of data from 1999 to 2009. PHI is a direct-care worker advocacy group.

What is disconcerting here is that with a move toward aging in place, these are the exact people that will be caring for your loved one. If employment screening programs are not in place by home care providers you risk the possibility that anyone desperate for a job could fill these roles and then exploit elders. Then when you do get someone who truly cares for those in their charge, you risk them leaving for any other higher paying job. And that is at the core – caring for our elderly should be a noble cause and occupation. And it should be paid accordingly. Not to do so sends a statement about how we value our elders.