Senator Jehlen announces that an amendment to increase the wages of home care workers in Massachusetts was adopted in the Senate budget this past week. The amendment provides an annualized wage increase of approximately 75 cents an hour to over 17,000 homemakers and personal care homemakers. While it does not seem like much, homemakers wages and benefits have not received an increase since FY08.
Home care workers do some of the most important yet underrated work: caring for the sick and elders while being far underpaid given the skill, effort and responsibility required. The low wages that these homemakers currently receive not only hurt the workers and their families, but also the people who depend on these workers for their care. Seniors who need help to stay safely in the community need home care workers. As boomers age and the senior population grows, the need for home care workers grows too. Personal Care Aides rank #2 and Home Health Aides #3 on the US Department of Labor list of the 30 Fastest Growing Occupations.
Between 2008 and 2018, the demand for home care aides in Massachusetts is expected to increase by over 30%, in contrast to overall job growth of 3%. Home care aides already have one of the highest job vacancy rates of all healthcare occupations in Massachusetts. Yet while the demand for home care services continues to grow, most home care agencies lose 50-60% of their new workforce within the first 6 months of employment. An increase in wages for these vital workers is long overdue and extremely necessary to ensure that we are able to retain well-equipped, trained professionals to serve as the front-line caregivers for elders and disabled persons.
The Senate and House budget will now go to conference committee to be reconciled resulting in the final FY15 MA state budget. Senator Jehlen is hopeful that the amendment will be included in the final budget. If you would like to hear more about the need to increase homemaker wages you can listen to this segment that aired on WBUR last week.
– Submitted by State Senator Pat Jehlen’s office