Surveys of DACA beneficiaries reveal that roughly one-fifth of them work in the health care and educational sector, suggesting a potential loss of tens of thousands of workers from in-demand job categories like DSP’s, home aides, and nursing assistants.
Projections by the government and advocacy groups show that the economy will need to add hundreds of thousands of workers in these fields over the next five to 10 years to keep up with escalating demand, caused primarily by a rapidly aging population.
“It’s going to have a real impact on consumers,” Paul Osterman, a professor at the Sloan School at MIT and author of a new book on long-term care workers, said of the DACA move.
Mr. Sheik is the chief executive and founder of CareLinx, which matches home care workers with patients and their families. The company relies heavily on authorized immigrant labor, making the looming demise of the program a decidedly unwelcome development. The move, Mr. Sheik said, would compound an already “disastrous situation in terms of shortages of supply.” He added, “This is a big issue we’re focusing on.”
According to census data Mr. Osterman analyzed, more than one-quarter of home health aides in 2015 were immigrants. The proportion in certain states is far higher, reaching nearly one-half in California and nearly two-thirds in New York.
As a basic matter of economics, removing tens of thousands of workers from occupations that already suffer from a serious labor shortage — the Labor Department predicts the country will need more than 1.25 million home health aides by 2024, up from about 900,000 in 2014 — generally has one unambiguous effect: driving up costs.
The economic problem is twofold. First, state governments, through Medicaid, often pays the salaries of DSP’s, meaning that escalating wages could blow a hole in state budgets (assuming the State increased funding!). If the states refuse or are unable to increase funding, then the labor shortage will get worse as for-profit organizations such as fast-food and Amazon warehouses raise wages.
Second, an acute shortage of DSP’s could force many older and disabled Americans out of their homes and into care facilities, where costs are roughly two-to-three times the cost of home care for a full year. The government typically picks up that tab as well.
For clients who rely on immigrant workers, “if that person is gone, can’t get renewed, it’s not a cute thing,” Professor Osterman said. “A home health aide is what lets you stay at home.”