Strong Support Among New Yorkers for Improving Home Care Workers’ Pay
Data from Statewide Poll Shows 71% Support Investments to Improve Pay, 14% Oppose
In New York and around the country, home care workers deliver critical services to older adults and people with disabilities, providing support with activities of daily living and medically oriented care under the direction of nurses and other medical professionals.
Policymakers in Albany play an important role in setting compensation levels for home care workers in New York since a large proportion of home care services are funded by Medicaid and other public programs.
In 2022, state lawmakers enacted a $3/hour increase in the home care worker minimum wage, to be phased in over two years. The increase was aimed at addressing the state’s home care workforce shortage, which has left thousands of New Yorkers without access to home care services.
Advocates are currently pushing for further wage increases, citing the fact that the new pay levels still fall well below a living wage. Available evidence also indicates that the new wage levels have yet to reverse the workforce shortage.
In mid-2022, before the new minimum wage took effect, Cornell ILR’s Empire State Poll asked 2,675 New Yorkers about their views on public investment to increase home care worker pay. At the time, home care workers in many parts of the state were earning just over $13/hour. (For more on the poll, please scroll to the end of this post).
As shown in Table 1, 70.9% of the 2,188 New Yorkers responding to this question said they would support public investment to increase home care workers’ pay, while 13.5% said they would not, and 15.6% were unsure.
Among those who indicated their political leaning in the survey (n=2,133), 78.7% of Democrats, 70.8% of Independents, and 61.1% of Republicans said they supported public investment in New York that would increase pay for home care workers (see Table 2).
Amid ongoing efforts to implement the pay increases that were passed last year and continue improving pay for home care workers across the state, please stay tuned for more analysis of this data and updated results from the 2023 Empire State Poll.
The Empire State Poll (ESP), first launched in 2003, is the first statewide survey of its kind for New York State (NYS), specifically designed to provide timely and actionable data on NYS residents. The core instrument includes workplace, community, governmental, economic, and special topical issue questions, in addition to rotating omnibus modules submitted by researchers. In 2022, the ESP became part of the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR). Before coming under the ILR School umbrella, the ESP surveyed 800 New Yorkers each year using phone interviews exclusively. ILR expanded on that template by adding online and mailing options, which more than tripled the number of responses received (n=2,675). This analysis is based on analysis of these data, which were obtained between June 6 and August 10, 2022.
Respondents to the 2022 Empire State Poll were asked, “Currently, many home care workers across New York State earn just over $13/hour. Would you support increased statewide investment allowing many home care workers to earn higher pay?” For the above analysis based on political leaning, we coded “Strong Democrat” and “Not very strong Democrat” as Democrats; “Independent, close to Democrat,” “Independent, close to neither,” and “Independent, close to Republican” as Independents; and “Not very strong Republican” and “Strong Republican” as Republicans.
This analysis builds on previously published findings from the 2022 Empire State Poll. Later this spring, we’ll be releasing a policy brief reporting all the care economy-related findings from the 2022 Empire State Poll.
 In the state of New York, home care workers in the publicly funded system include Home Health Aides, Personal Care Assistants, and Personal Assistants in the Consumer-Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP).
 New York State Department of Labor. October 13, 2022. “The New York State Department of Labor Announces Minimum Wage Increase for Home Care Aides.” Retrieved from https://dol.ny.gov/news/new-york-state-department-labor-announces-minimum-wage-increase-home-care-aides.
 The Home Care Association of New York State. “2022-2023 State of the Industry: Financial Condition and Trends of Home and Community-Based Care.” Retrieved from https://infogram.com/2022-2023-state-of-the-industry-report-1h1749vg9wp9l6z?live