New York City is a leading force in the global economy, but it couldn't be without the 200,000 domestic workers who sustain the city's families and homes. Domestic workers enable New Yorkers to work and have leisure time knowing that their children, elderly, and homes are taken care of. Domestic workers also enable their employers to meet the demanding hours required for the smooth functioning and productivity of the professional sectors. Domestic work forms the invisible backbone of New York City's economy.
This groundbreaking report shines a spotlight on the hidden workforce of domestic workers who keep the city's economic engine running every day. It delivers legal, historical, anecdotal, and unprecedented surveybased information. The data are the result of the first ever industry-wide analysis of domestic workers by domestic workers, based on 547 worker surveys, 14 worker testimonies and interviews with 7 employers. An overview of exclusionary labor laws illustrates the explicit legislative discrimination against domestic workers, while an economic history of domestic work in the U.S. and analysis of present day global pressures that impact the industry illustrate structural dynamics that foster
Survey results show that immigrant women of color make up nearly the entire domestic workforce. The wages domestic workers earn cannot cover New York's famed high cost of living. Domestic workers lack basic labor and health protections and often, face exploitive work conditions. Many endure verbal or physical abuse. Domestic work may be a labor of love, but it isn't one that loves its laborers. For too long, worker exploitation has remained invisible in an industry that is rarely documented and goes largely unmonitored -- until now.
Survey results clearly point to the need for industry standards that will ensure fair labor practices, recognition, and humane treatment. The report proposes a set of long overdue policy recommendations to create an industry that is fair, equitable, and dignified.