What is Direct Care

NMCC’s Primary Goal is to Improve the Quality of Life for Direct Caregivers

Paid Caregivers or Direct Support Staff

The most recent data tell us there are more than 36,000 home care and nursing assistants in the New Mexico labor force today. i, iv The largest share (31,090) of employment is as home health aides. The 36,000 home care and nursing assistant workers does not even count the many more in New Mexico who work as personal care assistants, homemakers (a Department of Health designation) and allied health assistants. All told, when these additional workers are counted, there are more than 62,000 employed as home care workers in New Mexico. ii

  • 81% of New Mexico caregivers are female. ii, iii
  • 73% are people of color. ii, iii
  • 84% are U.S. citizens. ii, iii
  • 26% have children under age 18. ii, iii
  • 25% have less than a high school education while 75% hold a high school diploma or have attended at least some college. ii, iii
  • 54% are employed full-time while 46% are employed part-time. ii, iii

Wages of caregivers have actually DECLINED since 2010 for home health aides. Home health aides’ average wage in 2010 was $11.02, and in 2020 was $10.52! ii, iii

Personal earnings range from $12,700-$19,200 depending on the setting in which they work; NMCC knows from caregivers themselves that the low earnings are one reason caregivers must work two and even here jobs just to make ends meet. Ii, iii

Only 28% of employed caregivers have health insurance through their employer or a union while a full 57% are on Medicaid or Medicare. Ii, iii


  • I Ruggles, Steven, Sarah Flood, Sophia Foster, Ronald Goeken, Jose Pacas, Megan Schouweiler, and Matthew Sobek. 2021. IPUMS USA: Version 11.0. https://doi.org/10.18128/D010.V11.0; analysis by PHI (June 2021).
  • ii New Mexico Caregivers Coalition analysis conducted 2019 using Bureau of Labor Statistics data detailing ten home care worker occupations.
  • Iii U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Division of Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS). 2021. May 2010 to May 2020 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. https://www.bls.gov/oes/home.htm; analysis by PHI (July 2020).
  • Iv Projections Central. 2021. Long Term Occupational Projections (2018–2028). http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm.

Family Caregivers – Paid or Unpaid

The size of New Mexico’s family caregiver population is staggering. Annually, 419,000 New Mexicans provide unpaid care to adults with limitations in daily activities, such as mobility, self-feeding, and dressing, with 287,000 providing care at any given time during the year. i Though these caregivers include friends and neighbors as well as relatives, all people providing unpaid care will be referred to as “family caregivers” for purposes of this report. On average, New Mexico’s family caregivers provide 18.4 hours of care per week. The total economic value of this care is estimated to be $3.1 billion annually. ii Nationally, family caregivers provide 80 percent of long-term care. iii Trends indicate that New Mexico’s demand for family caregivers will continue to increase. The average age of care recipients was 80 in a 2014 New Mexico survey funded by AARP. iv The state’s 80 and older population is projected to grow 80.5 percent between 2015 and 2030.v With fast growth in the segment of the population most in need of care, demand for family caregivers is likely to rise.

As the number of Americans needing care climbs through 2050, the ratio of people available to care for them declines. The typical caregiver is a 46-year-old woman providing care to her mother.vi Describing the looming challenge of caring for the United States’ baby boomers as they age, AARP’s public policy researchers define the caregiver support ratio as “the number of potential caregivers between the ages of 45-64 for each person aged 80 and older.” This ratio stood at seven potential caregivers for every person 80 or older in 2010, but will decline to 4 to 1 by 2030 and 3 to 1 in 2050.vii Women still do most of the family caregiving. Among all family caregivers, 60 percent are female. viii


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