Thursday, December 18, 2008

Prescription for a Healthier Economy

By Steven Edelstein

As policymakers debate how to stabilize the sagging economy, it’s time to think about how to help more than 3 million low-wage workers who hold the answer in their busy and burdened hands.

The recession is hitting hardest in low-income communities, and, if we’re serious about stimulating the economy, we need to make sure that recovery efforts reach the people and places that need it the most. In today’s aging society and service economy, at least one in 10 low-wage-earners is a direct care worker.

These hard-working, hard-pressed Americans provide healthcare and assistance services to older adults and people with disabilities in private homes, nursing homes, and day programs that provide non-residential, non-medical services. Their jobs -- home health aide, personal and home care aide and nursing aide, orderly and attendant -- include two of the three fastest-growing occupations in the nation.