Study: Wages Of Direct Care Workforce Lagging In Arizona, Nationwide

Published: Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 2:45pm
Updated: Monday, February 22, 2021 - 1:16pm

A new study has found that the direct care workforce — those who provide hands-on care to older adults and people with disabilities — earn a lower median wage compared to jobs with similar entry-level requirements. 

PHI, a nonprofit research group that studies the direct care workforce, found that this group, made up predominantly of women of color, earns a median hourly wage of just $12.80. In Arizona, it was $12.63. 

Robert Espinosa is the vice president of policy at PHI. 

"Low wages is one of the primary reasons that direct care workers leave these roles. And turnover is so high, we estimate that turnover in general hovers around 60%, and often within the first 90 days. And so Arizona should really think about, how do we increase compensation for these workers?" Espinosa said. 

The report noted that inadequate funding and low reimbursement rates under programs like Medicaid limit providers from increasing wages and adopting improvements.

The report provides a framework to improve conditions, says Espinoza, by improving training quality, by improving compensation, improving, creating real opportunity, respect and recognition and also addressing a range of inequities that these workers face as a largely female, people of color, workforce.

Espinosa says a big hurdle facing the providers who higher these workers is recruitment and retention.