On October 27, I went to Washington D.C. to speak at the Long-Term Services and Supports staff briefing. Many of my home care co-workers have spoken eloquently about why we deserve a living wage, but it’s not just about us!
The baby boomers, their family, and friends need us to make a living wage. After retirement, baby boomers want to live in their home not a nursing home. Home care workers make that possible. Friends and family members, at their peak earning potential, can continue working earning additional social security and pension benefits.
The state of Illinois needs us to make a living wage. By avoiding costly institutional care, home care workers save Illinois over $600 million each year. In only eight years, the state will need fifty percent more home care workers. That increase will not happen at the current pay rate. High employee turnover rates are expensive for employers, and unfair to seniors and people with disabilities who need an experienced, reliable workforce.
The entire country needs us to make a living wage. In August, Standard and Poor issued a report stating “severe income inequality is holding back economic growth in the U.S.” Historical evidence demonstrates that whenever the minimum wage is increased, it is followed by an increase in the economy. When a minimum wage worker gets a salary increase, they do not hide it in an offshore account to avoid paying taxes on it. They spend it. Our spending would create jobs, not destroy them.
This is important work. Home care workers are people of worth. We make valuable contributions to society and it’s time our paychecks reflected that. Investing in home care now will build a better future and a stronger home care system for seniors, people with disabilities, families, and workers.