The Work That Makes Work Possible

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Media Outlet: the Atlantic

Whether it’s childcare, elder care, or self-care, caregiving plays a central role in keeping America’s economy going. As baby boomers continue to age and Millennials continue to become parents, America’s care needs are only increasing. In fact, caregiving is projected to be the largest occupation in the U.S. by 2020, with care-sector jobs growing five times faster than other large job sectors. Sixty percent of families do not have a stay-at-home parent, and almost 70 percent of mothers and over 90 percent of fathers are in the workforce.

With those numbers, the labor of caregivers—the majority of whom are women of color, often immigrant women—clearly enables vast percentages of economic productivity in the U.S., without compensation or benefits to acknowledge its value. A survey by the National Domestic Workers Alliance found that 65 percent of domestic workers don’t have health insurance and only 4 percent have employer-provided insurance coverage. Less than 2 percent of domestic workers receive retirement or pension funds from their primary employers, and fewer than 9 percent work for employers who pay into Social Security.

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Anne-Marie Slaughter is the president and CEO of New America, a think ​and action ​tank dedicated to renewing America in the Digital Age.