Immigration and Seniors Housing Labor Woes

Bringing in low-skill, low-wage immigrants for seniors housing may not be the answer.

There have been calls to ease immigration in order to bring caregivers into the U.S. to fill low-skill jobs in seniors housing. As you know, this is a need that will be growing for the next 30 years or more, so the demand for labor is not the issue. But here’s the flip side of this. There are about 6 million workers in the U.S. with part-time jobs looking for full-time jobs. There are also, by one count, at least 600,000 people who have stopped looking for jobs. But that seems low to me. The point is, there are plenty of people who want full-time work in this country. And there are plenty of people who need full-time work but who may not “want” to work, and a lot of them are low-skill labor. So the question is not a lack of supply. The issue is attracting these workers to seniors housing, and to health care in general. When entry-level jobs pay $8 to $10 an hour, that is not going to get many people off their butts. And the current image of taking care of the elderly is not that glamorous. But you know that the job can be very fulfilling for many of your workers. But, for whatever reason, you are not communicating that message that message to the workforce. Bringing in cheap, low-skill foreign labor will keep costs down for a while, but is that really good for the industry in the long run? To me, it spells continued high turnover.


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