Today the AFL-CIO shared new data from a recent poll that provides critical insights into voters' perceptions of care workers and our nation’s care system. AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler announced the results of the poll during her remarks at the first-ever Care Workers Can’t Wait Summit, a historic convening of more than 200 care workers from around the country to raise awareness about the ongoing crisis in America’s care economy. The survey revealed that when asked what they believe care workers currently earn, likely voters said $20 an hour on average. When respondents were asked how much they believe care workers should earn, likely voters said $27 an hour. In comparison, studies by the Economic Policy Institute have shown that some care workers, including home health and child care workers, can earn as little as $13 an hour.
Below are excerpts from President Shuler’s speech:
“So let me explain the urgency of this moment….We have millions of Baby Boomers aging. Millions of children and people with disabilities who need caretaking. And we have a care industry shrinking because workers have not been given the dignity they deserve. The U.S. is going to lose $290 billion a year in GDP, by 2030, if we don’t fix this.
“This has to be the moment for change. And I’ll tell you: Americans agree. We did a study where we talked to a wide swath of voters. When you ask voters what they think care workers make, they tell you about $20 an hour. The reality—as so many people here today can tell you—is only $13 an hour, on average, for a home health or child care worker. But when you ask voters what care workers should make, they say double that number: $27 an hour.”
The poll, done in conjunction with political advocacy firm Data for Progress, was the result of a survey of more than 1,000 likely voters representative of America’s diversity in terms of age, gender, race, education, geography and voting history. The results demonstrate that while care work is clearly valued by America’s voters, many of whom are consumers of care services, they underestimate the challenges care workers face on the job, including low pay and poor benefits.
Care workers, most of whom are women of color and immigrants, are among the lowest-paid workers in the country despite the extremely demanding nature of the jobs they do to care for children, seniors and people with disabilities. Several studies have shown that many care workers currently live near or below the poverty line and lack safe working conditions. Today, the Biden administration announced sweeping executive actions to strengthen the care economy, and direct federal agencies to use their resources to ensure that all working families have equitable access to affordable and quality care.
Contact: Danielle Noel, 202-637-5018