Publication Date: February 27th, 2023
Publication Type(s): Peer-reviewed Journal Publications
Topic(s): Aging, Health Disparities and Health Equity, Health Services, Healthcare Access, Home Health, Long-term Care, Post-acute Care, Workforce
Author(s): Dill J, Henning-Smith C, Zhu R, Vomacka E
Using the 2021 Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) dataset, we calculate the ratio of direct care workers relative to the population of older adults (ages 65+) across rural and urban areas in the US. We find that there are, on average, 32.9 home health aides per 1000 older adults (age 65+) in rural areas and 50.4 home health aides per 1000 older adults in urban areas. There are, on average, 20.9 nursing assistants per 1000 older adults in rural areas and 25.3 nursing assistants per 1000 older adults in urban areas. There is substantial regional variation. Greater investment needs to be made in improving wages and job quality for direct care workers to attract workers to these critical occupations, especially in rural areas where the need for direct care is greater.