With a new online tool from PHI, it’s now possible to easily compare caregiving-related policies and the economic outlook for caregivers within each state.
PHI, a national research, advocacy, and workforce innovations organization focused on direct care workers, recently released a Direct Care Workforce State Index. The index ranks all 50 states and Washington, D.C. in two areas: worker-related policies and the economic status of direct care workers.
The worker supportive policy ranking includes policies related to:
- Training requirements
- Medicaid expansion
- Paid leave
- “Right to Work” laws
- Protections for LGBTQ workers
- State-level Earned Income Tax Credits
The direct care workforce economic measure includes data on:
- Median wage
- Wage competitiveness
- Median annual personal earnings
- Affordable housing
- Health insurance coverage
In choosing what to include in the rankings, PHI recognized that direct care workers are generally underpaid and are disproportionately women of color who have historically been excluded from labor protections, said Lina Stepick, senior research & evaluation associate for PHI. While all of the measures included in the index aren’t specific to caregivers, any worker protections would benefit them.
PHI also recognizes that this isn’t a comprehensive list of policies and encourages people to be cautious when using the rankings to compare states.
Why was this index created?
This index was developed following a PHI Initiative called Essential Jobs, Essential Care, which focused on Michigan, New Mexico and North Carolina, with the goal of improving compensation for direct care workers in those states.
The direct care index was created as a follow-up to that project, Stepick said, aiming to put into context how direct care workers fare in each state and to create a resource that enables people to compare caregiving policies on a state-by-state basis.
“The hope is that this interactive data-driven tool can help folks on the ground in these different states — policymakers, advocates, workers, other state leaders — can help them understand how their state currently supports direct care workers as well as where they can improve and how they compare to other states maybe in the region or similarly situated in other ways,” Stepick said.
After examining the data, Stepick said it’s clear that every state, including those ranked at the top of the list, has room for improvement. Even in states where most of the policies included in the index have been implemented, about a third of caregivers are considered low-income.
“States are critical actors in job quality for direct care workers, and we hope this new online tool provides state leaders with insightful data and information to improve these jobs for the benefit of workers, consumers, and employers,” said Jodi M. Sturgeon, president & CEO of PHI, in a press release.
What do the rankings show?
The index shows that the top five states for direct care workers are Washington, Rhode Island, the District of Columbia, Maine and New Jersey.
The five states ranked lowest are Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and North Carolina.
To see your state’s ranking and examine caregiver-related policies in your state, you can access the index here.