President Joe Biden's American Jobs Plan calls for spending $400 billion to expand home-based and community-based care for the elderly and people with disabilities. Care advocates hail this as a "monumental advance" toward having a country where everyone can receive quality affordable care--and where the workers who provide that care will earn enough to live.
The care economy is projected to be one of the nation's fastest-growing industries. As baby boomers age, the economy is expected to add 1.6 million jobs related to adult care by 2024.
Despite this burgeoning need, home care workers are paid on average about $16,200 a year, and one in six lives below the poverty line.
Just as we need good union jobs to repair and build our roads and bridges, we need good union jobs to take care of our society's most vulnerable. If we burn out these workers with low wages and long hours, our loved ones who need care will also pay the price.
But as Congress works to strike up a bipartisan deal on infrastructure, Biden's historic $400 billion proposal has seemingly fallen by the wayside, in favor of physical infrastructure.
Not surprisingly, two issues left out of the bipartisan infrastructure deal are climate change and the care economy, both areas where those in power delay taking essential action.
Rebekah Entralgo is the managing editor of Inequality.org at the Institute for Policy Studies. This column was produced for The Progressive magazine.