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News from EPI Nearly 2 million direct care workers would benefit from a $15 minimum wage by 2025

A new EPI report finds that a $15 federal minimum wage by 2025 would raise pay for one-half of direct care workers who provide long-term services and support (LTSS), or 1.9 million workers.

The vast majority (90.7%) of LTSS direct care workers who would get a raise are women, and half (50.0%) are Black, Hispanic, or AAPI. About 1.1 million of these affected direct care employees work in home care, and about 760,000 work in nursing or residential care homes.

Annual pay for year-round direct care workers in LTSS would rise by up to $3,200 (in 2021 dollars) with a $15 minimum wage by 2025, as called for by the Raise the Wage Act. The year-round earnings of Black and Hispanic direct care workers would increase by $3,500 and $3,700, respectively.

“The important and difficult work of helping people to lead dignified and independent lives, regardless of age or ability, is deeply undervalued. Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025 would benefit many direct care workers who provide long-term health and personal care services and supports to the elderly and people with disabilities,” says Julia Wolfe, co-author of the report and state economic analyst for EPI.

The report also examines the share of LTSS direct care workers by state who would receive higher pay from a $15 minimum wage. More than five out of every six direct care workers would have higher take-home pay in nine states: Mississippi (90.7%), Louisiana (89.3%), Arkansas (87.4%), Oklahoma (85.9%), West Virginia (85.3%), Alabama (84.8%), New Mexico (84.8%), Missouri (84.4%), and Kansas (83.5%).

“It is past time for Congress to do its job and raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Lawmakers at all levels of government should also take further action by passing policies that encourage even stronger wages, benefits, and protections for these workers—such as strengthening collective bargaining rights and following the lead of the 10 states and two major cities that have passed Domestic Workers Bills of Rights,” says Ben Zipperer, co-author of the report and an economist for EPI.

The report defines LTSS direct care workers as those employed as nursing assistants, home health aides, and personal care aides in the following industries: nursing care facilities, residential care facilities, home health care services, and individual/family services. The authors exclude care workers in industries in which they are less likely to be providing LTSS, such as in hospitals.