Why Are Caregivers Making Minimum Wage? (by Shelly Lai, 11946)


According to (U.S. administration on Aging. (2000, fall). America’s families care: A report on the needs of American’s family caregivers. (March 26, 2003) 50% of elderly who have long-term care are living in nursing homes. While only 7% have someone in the family to care for them. With numbers like these it proves that most of our loved ones will end up having a caregiver outside their family to provide care for them. Families bring loved ones into retirement homes everyday hoping that they get the best care possible. With the high cost of living you would believe that the caregivers that provide 24 hour assistance are getting paid a big buck to meet all their needs. But in reality most of them are making minimum wage. As of March of 2015 individuals in this line of work make around $9.96 per hour on average.

My volunteer work at a retirement home has really opened my eyes on this subject. A building with about 60 residents each having their own individual needs and two to three caregivers a shift to make sure every ones needs are met. They seemed so stressed out and I wonder to myself how can workers stay happy at their job if they are getting paid so little for such high demand. It is not rare to hear complaints from residents and workers. It usually sounds like the residents blaming the caregivers and the caregivers blaming their bosses and they blame the company. This shows how little pay for these hard workers has its effect on everyone.

The Research

Earle, Alison, and Jody Heymann. “The Cost Of Caregiving: Wage Loss Among Caregivers Of Elderly And Disabled Adults And Children With Special Needs.” Community, Work & Family 15.3 (2012): 357-375. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.

“Between 40 to 50 million people in the United States are living with disabilities, and

A majority of them are 65 years old or older. 54.1 million caregivers provide unpaid care to an adult 18 or older.”

According to (A Shortage of Caregivers. (2014, February 26) Topping the list of occupations expected to grow between 2012 and 2022 are personal care aides, in the No. 1 slot (580,800 new positions); home health aides, No. 4 (424,200 jobs); and nursing assistants, No. 6 (312,200 jobs).

“There isn’t going to be a big increase in the work force that typically fills these jobs — poorly educated, low income, usually minority women — over the next 10 years,” said Joshua Wiener, director of the aging, disability and long-term care program at RTI International, an independent research institute.”

“One reason: About 75 percent of services provided by home care agencies are paid by Medicaid and Medicare. Financial pressures on both programs are enormous, making it unlikely that significant wage increases are in store.”

“Nursing Home Workers Threaten Strike.” NY Daily News. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

They discuss the employees going on strike because they want to keep health care benefits and higher pay.

Large corporations like these under pay these workers and this is going to effect the residents because if they don’t offer more money the workers are going to walk out meaning they will have to bring in new people and retrain them. Also it is uncomfortable for the residents to have to trust new people working with them. It will cause friction between workers and residents also making more complaints for the directors and managers.

How to Get Involved

What I learned from my experience is that if these caregivers make more money that will encourage them to work harder and to stay at a job like this. With high demand for caregivers I think corporations take advantage and think that they can pay people less money that have less knowledge in this type of work. Keeping the people with lots of schooling that deserve a higher pay without a job, I know this is something that needs time to be changed but with the patterns that are shown here and the high cost the residents pay to get care the people who take care of them should be rewarded the most.

I hope that the next you or someone you know that is taking a loved one into a retirement home they do their research and see how the employees are treated, because at the end of the day they are the ones caring for your family members and loved ones.


  1. A Shortage of Caregivers. (2014, February 26). Retrieved March 6, 2015, from http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/26/a-shortage-of-caregivers/?_r=0
  1. “California Caregivers Sue Their Employer for Wage Violations.” State of Health Blog from KQED News RSS. 18 June 2014. Web. 12 Mar. 2015. <http://blogs.kqed.org/stateofhealth/2014/06/18/california-caregivers-sue-their-employer-kindred-healthcare-for-wage-violations/&gt;.
  2. http://web.a.ebscohost.com.libproxy.pcc.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=b758888b-722c-414c-b496-aaf69cbf76a5%40sessionmgr4001&vid=7&hid=4109
  1. “Nursing Home Workers Threaten Strike.” NY Daily News. Web. 12 Mar. 2015. <http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/nursing-home-workers-threaten-strike-article-1.2090062&gt;.

One comment

  1. Chriss

    Hey Shelly,

    Your post raises some significant questions, and reveals some really ugly truth about the caregiver profession. I had no idea it was as bad as what you’ve cited, but it certainly doesn’t surprise me. Nice job bringing up something less “mainstream” like hunger or education, and focusing on something that is really a rising issue due to the retirement of one of the largest generations of our time.

    The only critique I could give would be more information about how I can help out personally. I think a bit more information here would be great.


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