Higher paying jobs with benefits are being replaced with lower paying jobs with no benefits.
And the recovery rolls on....
The fastest growing job in America pays poorly. Meet home health care aides.
These nearly 2 million (mostly minorities and women) workers do everything from prepare meals and clean homes, to bathe and change bedpans for elderly and disabled patients.
As Baby Boomers age, this job is expected to explode, growing 70% between 2010 and 2020, according to the Labor Department. That makes it the single fastest growing job in the United States, according to their forecasts.
Call it the silver tsunami. Roughly every eight seconds, a Baby Boomer turns 65. And that has led to surging demand for in-home care.
"This isn't just a surge, a one-time hiring spurt. This is something we will do this year and into the future," said Paul Hogan, chairman of Home Instead Senior Care, which alone plans to hire 45,000 caregivers in North America this year. "It's all driven by the growth in the senior population."
But even though there are plenty of job opportunities, many of these people make the same wage as teenagers flipping burgers or selling clothes at the mall. The average hourly wage is just $9.70 an hour, according to the Labor Department.
For those in the industry who work full-time, this amounts to roughly $20,000 a year. Many health care aides only work part-time though -- and they do not receive benefits.
Under these conditions, it's no surprise then that about 40% of home aides rely on public assistance, such as Medicaid and food stamps, just to get by.
"What you have is a situation here where the people that we count on to care for our families cannot take care of their own, and that's got to change," said Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
How did this happen?
Many home health care aides are exempt from federal minimum wage and overtime laws, due to a little-known provision in the Fair Labor Standards Act passed in 1974, which puts them in the same category as casual babysitters. The Obama administration has been trying to change that over the past two years, but its efforts have been met fiercely with lobbying from the industry.
While some states have since passed greater protections for home aides, a survey by the National Domestic Workers Alliance shows roughly a quarter of these workers still make less than the federal minimum wage.