Approximately 495,600 direct care job openings will be created in residential care communities when workers exit the labor force over the next eight years, according to estimates based on new data from PHI.

Additionally, the national research, advocacy and workforce innovations organization said, 418,300 job openings will be created in residential care when workers leave the field, and 163,100 new jobs will be created through 2029.

Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics employment projections, the overall outlook for the direct care workforce appears “daunting,” said Stephen Campbell, a data and policy analyst at PHI.

Employment projections involving residential care communities as well as nursing homes and home care, however, send a clear message to the long-term care field, he said. That message? “Millions of direct care jobs will need to be filled in the years ahead, and stronger recruitment pipelines, improved quality, and a range of workforce interventions are critically needed for the workforce in this sector,” Campbell said.

Although projections about the long-term care caregiver jobs were made before the COVID-19 pandemic, Campbell said he is confident that the pandemic will not diminish the demand for direct care workers in the near term. He does anticipate, however, that it will accelerate the shift in demand for workers away from nursing homes and toward home- and community-based settings.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, long-term care jobs decreased 5% from February to December 2020, with almost 342,000 jobs lost. In residential care, employment was 7% lower, compared with 9% in nursing homes and 3% in home care.