With a median hourly wage of $10.89 and median earnings of $14,700, 43% of New Mexico’s direct care workforce live in or near poverty, and 65% rely on some form of public assistance. This economic instability has a huge effect on historically disadvantaged groups in New Mexico — 72% of direct care workers are people of color and 15% are immigrants. 

Now is the time to transform this bleak reality, according to Adrienne Smith, president and CEO of the New Mexico Caregivers Coalition, an organization that partners with PHI as part of the Essential Jobs, Essential Care multi-state advocacy initiative 

“I have seen other states take bold action to improve direct care worker compensation during the pandemic, and I think we need to do that here,” Smith said during a recent interview with Stephen Campbell, a data and policy analyst at PHI. “I would like to leverage the public attention on direct care workers and pursue a policy change to ensure that any recent and future Medicaid reimbursement rate increases include concomitant wage increases for workers,” she said.