Pandemic Recovery Must Include Care Worker Protections

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Between daycare closures, school closures, and nursing homes becoming hotbeds for the deadly virus, the Covid-19 pandemic turned millions of people into caregivers overnight.

These additional caregiving responsibilities are a key factor holding many Americans back from re-entering the workforce. While Republicans try to argue that overly generous unemployment benefits are causing staffing shortages in some pockets of the economy, the real obstacles are the lack of available and affordable child and elder care, combined with the low wages for many of the available jobs.

Women are particularly affected by these challenges, since they shoulder a disproportionate share of caregiving duties. Nearly three million women left the workforce entirely between March 2020 and February of this year.

The pandemic has only exacerbated the pre-existing inequalities in our care system. Executives of for-profit senior homes pocket obscenely large paychecks — even during the Covid crisis. The CEO of Welltower, the nation’s largest owner of nursing homes and other senior housing, made more than $14 million in 2020. Meanwhile, ordinary families struggle to afford care for their loved ones — even as caregivers earn poverty wages.

What will it take to build a more equitable and sustainable support system for both family and professional caregivers?

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