Sunday, December 14, 2008

Don't Mourn - Professionalize!

Better Long-Term Care jobs will boost economy

Published by dcardin on November 13, 2008 in PHI Blog.

Economics writer Robert Kuttner has some advice for President-Elect Barack Obama in his new book Obama’s Challenge: America’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency.

Kuttner makes a strong case for professionalizing the human services sector – jobs which are harder to outsource – to boost the U.S. economy.

Last week, he told NPR’s Fresh Air, “All jobs taking care of America’s children and taking care of America’s old people and taking care of America’s sick people, by definition, these are jobs that have to be close to home.”

He told Fresh Air interviewer Terry Gross that Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs) are doing 95 percent of the hands on care in nursing homes, making much less than $10 an hour with very little training, and a turn over rate above 200 percent.

“They could get better training. They could make more like $15 an hour,” he said. “They could join the middle class. They could treat our parents and grandparents with better professional skill and that would be both an act of macroeconomic stimulus—it would also be an act of mercy. These are the things we should be doing as a country. These are the things we need to do to get out of an economic crisis…”

Also see: Good Jobs for Americans who Help Americans, American Prospect, May 8, 2008

Here is a very straightforward proposal.

Let's have a national policy to make every human-service job a good job -- one that pays a living wage with good benefits, and includes adequate training, professional status, and the prospect of advancement -- a career rather than casual labor.

Don't mourn -- professionalize

These, after all, are jobs caring for our parents, our children, and ourselves. Transforming all human-service work into good jobs would not merely replenish the supply of decent work. It would vastly improve the quality of care delivered to the elderly at home or in institutions; to young children in pre-kindergartens or day-care facilities; and to sick people whether in hospitals, hospices, outpatient settings, or their homes.

These are also the jobs that cannot be outsourced. Even if we succeed in reviving American manufacturing, the process of automation means that America is almost certain to become even more of a service economy over time. Good service-sector jobs can help replace for good factory jobs.

See Kuttner Interview about his book "Obama's Challenge" on PBS Now

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