New Study Finds that Black Home Caregivers and Nannies Earn Slightly More than Whites

4798Nannies, caregivers and housecleaners earn a median wage of about $10 an hour, and few receive benefits like health insurance or paid sick days, according to the first-ever national statistical study of domestic workers, which is being released on Tuesday.
The study, based on interviews with 2,086 workers in 14 major metropolitan areas, found substantial differences in pay across ethnicity, immigration status and whether the worker lived with her employer.

The report found that the median wage for nannies was $11 an hour, compared with a $10-an-hour median for caregivers and housecleaners. But 23 percent of the workers earned less than their state's minimum wage, which varies but must be at least the federal level of $7.25 an hour. Domestic workers are generally not covered by federal or state minimum wage laws.

The study noted that white domestic workers generally earned more than their black, Hispanic and Asian counterparts, although the study said that African-American nannies earned slightly more -- a median of $12.71 an hour -- than white ones ($12.55 an hour). Hispanic nannies earned $8.57 an hour, while Asian ones earned $11.11.

Called "Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work," the study was based on interviews with nannies, caregivers and housecleaners who now work in the United States but originally came from 71 countries. The interviews were conducted in nine languages: English, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Tagalog, Mandarin, Cantonese, Haitian Creole and Nepali.

Barbara Young, a former nanny and caregiver, is now a full-time national organizer of domestic workers. (Robert Caplin for The New York Times)

The researchers found that domestic workers who were illegal immigrants earned considerably less than those who were American-born or naturalized citizens. Nannies who were citizens had a median pay of $12.50 an hour, while illegal immigrants earned $9.86 an hour. Caregivers who were American citizens received a median of $10.30 an hour; caregivers without legal work authorization earned $8.33.

"The upshot of the study is that domestic workers who help so many families with taking care of their loved ones and taking care of their homes often earn so little that they have a difficult time supporting their own families," said Nik Theodore, an author of the study and an associate professor of urban policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Mr. Theodore said there are about 800,000 nannies, caregivers and housecleaners who work for households who pay them directly. The researchers did not study domestic workers employed through companies or outside agencies.

The study's other author was Linda Burnham, research director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, an advocacy group. The study was financed by the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundations and the Alexander Soros Foundation.

Source: The New York Times | STEVEN GREENHOUSE
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