As demand for home care grows, Nevada workers petition for higher wages


Shelbie Swartz/Nevada State AFL-CIO

Home care workers deliver a petition to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday to establish a Home Care Employment Standards Board.

Home care workers in Nevada petitioned the state government Tuesday to help improve pay and other benefits.

“We deserve a livable wage,” says Safiyyah Abdulrahim, a caregiver in Las Vegas.

She's among the more than 150 home care workers who filed a petition with the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services. A bill passed earlier this year by the state Legislature set such a petition as the first step in creating an employment standards board for home care workers.

The board – consisting of health officials, home care workers and employers – would make recommendations to the Legislature and the state government regarding wage increases, paid sick leave and other benefits.

Currently, home care workers in Nevada make an average of $11.07 an hour to help seniors or the disabled take care of themselves, according to a spokesperson for the Service Employees International Union Nevada Local 1107.

“We do the work that a lot of people don’t want to do because it's back-breaking and it's emotional as well,” says Abdulrahim.

The West is facing a growing shortage of home care workers as the senior population booms and more people stay away from nursing homes as the pandemic drags on. A recent study by the Nevada-based nonprofit Guinn Center suggests that the state will need about 5,300 additional personal care aides – in addition to the 13,000 already working in the state – by 2026.

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"The primary demand driver is demographic change, with a projected 163% increase in the population aged 65 years and older between 2010 and 2040," according to the study.

Nationally, MIT professor Paul Osterman has projected a shortage of 151,000 paid home care workers by 2030, with the gap growing to 355,000 by 2040.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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