Aide helping resident

Long-term care employers will need to fill 7.8 million total direct-care job openings from 2016 to 2026, according to a new analysis from PHI.

The estimate includes 3.6 million workers who will leave the labor force, 2.8 million workers who will leave the field for other occupations, and 1.4 million new positions that will need to be created because of increasing demand, said Stephen Campbell, data and policy analyst with PHI, who analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

“In short, these BLS projections confirm that we need a large-scale investment to recruit new workers and reduce turnover within this workforce to ensure that older adults and people with disabilities can access proper supports in the coming years,” he said.

Campbell said he spoke with labor economists at the bureau and “pored over their methodological guidance.”

He also found that the direct-care workforce will grow more than any other occupation in the country and that from 2016 to 2026, the direct-care workforce will add the greatest number of new jobs, compared with other occupations, in 38 states.

“These statistics are startling, but they should serve to galvanize, not further stall, the long-term care sector,” he said. “To reduce unnecessary turnover among direct-care workers, the long-term care sector needs to improve the quality of direct care jobs through higher wages, better training, and opportunities for advancement, among other interventions.”

Ways to expand the labor pool, Campbell said, include educating the public about direct care worker; recruiting from new populations, including men, younger workers and older workers; and partnering with community institutions such as schools, churches and workforce development agencies.