While direct-care workers feature prominently in the new report on low-wage jobs funded with taxpayer dollars [“On taxpayers’ dime, at $12 an hour,” Economy & Business, May 8], the study failed to account for the industry that employs most publicly funded personal-care aides: services for the elderly and persons with disabilities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this industry includes 350,000 personal-care aides, who help older adults and persons with disabilities live independently. They earn a median wage of less than $10 per hour.
The report also excluded an estimated 800,000 personal-care aides funded by Medicaid but employed directly by their clients. These workers are not included in BLS counts.
Together, these aides experience low wages, high levels of part-time work, high turnover and few job benefits. Furthermore, personal-care aides and other home-care workers are exempted from federal minimum wage and overtime protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Obama administration is considering extending these protections to home-care workers. It is time to take this important step.
Jodi M. Sturgeon, New York
The writer is president of the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute.