North Carolina's population is aging quickly, increasing the demand for personal caregivers. But a report from a poverty advocacy organization says elderly people might have trouble finding reliable care unless caregivers' wages increase.
Allan Freyer directs the Workers Rights Project at the North Carolina Justice Center. He says these jobs pay about $10 dollars per-hour, keeping workers below the poverty line.
"The majority of caregivers are people of color. They're mostly women, and they're mostly low-income, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that they're not protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act, they're not eligible for overtime, and their wages are incredibly low," Freyer says.
Freyer says these positions have high turnover rates. He says the Justice Center wants the legislature to study the state's fixed Medicaid reimbursement rate so caregiver agencies can make a profit while increasing workers' wages.
"As Medicaid goes, so goes the private sector, when it comes to care giving," says Freyer. "Because of its large purchasing power, Medicaid sets the standard by which the private sector also provides its care."
North Carolina recently cut its Medicaid reimbursement rates for direct care.
Freyer says it's important to figure out how to stabilize wages and hours for these workers, because the state's elderly population will double by 2050.