By Nicolas Martinez
In the coming years, developments in artificial intelligence, computerization, and automation are likely to impact most jobs. This summer, IWPR held a panel discussion with Professor Jerry Jacobs, Sarita Gupta, and Morgan Higgins to discuss how AI and computerization may change jobs in elder care and how public policy can improve the quality of care jobs. This discussion was part of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s Women & the Future of Work lecture series, supported by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.
The U.S. market for care workers is adapting slowly to the increasing need for elder care and the unmet need for child care, according to a report released by IWPR in June titled, The Shifting Supply and Demand of Care Work: The Growing Role of People of Color and Immigrants. The number of care workers grew 19 percent from 2005 to 2015, but low wages and poor working conditions in the care workforce threaten the quality and availability of care.
Care workers are predominantly female and the industry has become more diverse over the past decade, with especially large increases in the share of male workers, Hispanic and multiracial workers, and naturalized citizens and foreign-born noncitizens. Care workers have growing levels of education attainment, but the percent of care workers who were poor or near poor remained relatively unchanged between 2005 and 2015, especially among women. Overall, care workers have experienced stagnant, or in many cases declining, wages over the past decade. IWPR contextualized the research into the broader policy landscape in a one-pager, “Care workers in the United States: Where are we and where are we going?” The analysis was featured in Home Health Care News, “Care Workforce is More Educated, But Wages Remain Stagnant.”
Automation may cause jobs to disappear, but new technologies could give rise to an entirely different outcome. Computerization of some aspects of the job could lead to greater transparency and safety for care workers. As the labor market continues to evolve, IWPR will continue to provide high quality data analysis and provide policy recommendations.