Care work is essential to meet the basic needs and wellbeing of any society. However, the U.S. faces a burgeoning care crisis. In the coming years, aging Baby Boomers will require an unprecedented amount of paid elder care services. Meanwhile, the current unmet paid child care needs remain high On the supply side, our research shows that gender and racial/ethnic inequities are built into the looming care crisis: 9 in 10 low-wage care workers are women and almost half are racial/ethnic minority groups.
While there is clearly a high demand for care workers, little research examines how paid care workers afford and manage their own caregiving needs. Given that paid care workers with children and elderly dependents care around the clock—at work and at home—it is important to understand if they have enough of their own care supports to meet these needs. These questions are especially pressing during the current public health crisis, as care workers are called upon to care for the most vulnerable members of society and the importance of care work is more visible than ever. Paid care workers' ability to care for their own families even while they continue to care for ours is critical to our ability to weather the COVID-19 storm and be ready to care for our aging population.
In this analysis, our sample of care workers includes a range of well-paid to poorly paid jobs including physicians, physical therapists, Certified Nursing Assistants and personal and home care aides.3 We consider care needs for children under 13 (e.g., child care centers, family child care), adult parents (e.g., at home, in a day program) or both, by race/ethnicity and work and family composition.