Wisconsin is witnessing the same type of trend that’s occurring all across the country: as baby boomer’s retire, they’re going to be taxing the health and home care industries. That means unless there are more workers to fill the need, some men and women could find themselves struggling to cope with their health changes and physical difficulties on their own.
The growth anticipated for the health and home care sectors will be about double the next closest industry. By 2024, there’s an anticipated need for more than 54,000 new workers in this field, but one of the major challenges facing these two industries are wages.
Without an increase in wages and benefits, it’s proven difficult to not just attract new workers to the field, but to retain them. In this state known for its cheese and dairy, it’s estimated that 5,000 new registered nurses, 616 physical therapists, and 376 doctors will be needed, and the rest will likely be in supporting roles, like home care aides.
The Wisconsin State Journal reports in the news blog, Workers Wanted: Aging population presents double challenge in health care, written by Matthew DeFour, in the series, Workers Wanted: Wisconsin’s Looking Crisis:
“As Wisconsin’s baby boomers retire in greater numbers over the coming decades and live longer than previous generations, there will be more consumers of health care while the working-age population that provides those services is projected to stay about the same. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those age 65 and older spend 43 percent more on health care than those under 65 and 230 percent more than those under 30.
“When we’re looking out 20 years, we need to think about policy actions we need to take now” to meet the demand for services, said George Quinn, director of the Wisconsin Council on Medical Education and the Workforce. “There are some significant things we have done, but there are other things we need to do.”
The main problem many are facing in these fields is stagnant wages. Even for positions like doctors, nurses, and physical therapists, even though the salaries are significantly higher than for home care aides, they require a lot more education, but if the state doesn’t increase revenue and its budgets fall flat, paying these salaries will become more challenging, despite the increase in demand.
Many people are warning of a potential disaster for an aging population in the entire country, and Wisconsin is also facing trouble. Legislators and agencies alike are working to find a solution that will allow people to remain at home, with support, which ultimately saves money over extended nursing home care.
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