A cornucopia of recent efforts to increase the minimum wage nationally have placed a renewed emphasis on what many university scholars are calling a care crises of sorts. In essence, the workers who care for the majority of the population during the earliest stages and the end stages of our lives, are not compensated enough to sustain themselves over time. Considering the fact that increasing their compensation would ultimately also increase the already skyrocketing (in some quarters) costs of care for families, what role can the government play budget wise, seems to be the question on everyone’s minds.
The markets of child care and home health care are heavily privatized, which may be the issue according to a new study released early this week by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The study seems to imply that a reasonable answer to the dilemma, is NOT to allow child care providers and home health aides( who are mostly women and people of color in the U.S) on the brink of poverty within this much needed profession. The average home health caregiver, aide, or homecare worker in America makes around $10.00 per hour, and this industry hasn’t seen any significant raises in a decade. The conclusion of the study suggests that the public sector needs to do more to support these essential industries. “Those care services are a public good and need to be treated as a public good,” the head researcher in the study was quoted as saying during an interview.
By the numbers, most child care organizations are in support of a minimum wage increase for their workers. There seems to be an understanding that the way wages are falling currently is unsustainable, if the desire is to have a competent and robust workforce. The growing shortage of people to do these jobs is directly associated with the near squalor for wages.
During the trials of this study, the teams of researchers from several universities sought to gain a better understanding of the dual industries that were being impacted by upticks in the minimum wage that have taken place in the lion’s share of states across local jurisdictions in the U.S. Since around November 2012, when fast-food workers went on strike pushing for $15.00 per hour wages for their workers, over 17 million employees across the country have benefited from minimum-wage increases associated with that campaign, according to statistics released by the National Employment Law Project.
While those in the food service industry, particularly restaurants, as well as retail employers have been able to slide modest price increases to consumers to compensate for hiked wages, the same does not hold true for the home health care industry. Home care and early child care industries are more restricted since families find it too hard to bear the burden of cost increases for care, since health care across the board is already considered too high in the labor-intensive business model.
The experts believe that a solution will ultimately rest with increasing funding at the federal and state levels, with an assist from concentrated local efforts to address funding deficits in both child and home health care. The idea of increased funding has the chance to improve the quality of early child care and the lives of those on the front lines of elderly home care as well. This can also lead to better care outcomes for children and senior citizens who are receiving the services.
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