Inflation Eroding WA Caregivers' Gains in Pandemic Hazard Pay
Thursday, May 19, 2022
At the start of the pandemic, at-home caregivers in Washington state saw their wages go up with a boost from hazard pay. Two years later, inflation is erasing the pay bump.
Wages actually have gone up for caregivers from $19 per hour in May 2020 to $19.26 today, but inflation means the purchasing power of their pay now is actually $17.46.
Gwen Goodfellow, an at-home caregiver, said the increase was welcome at first.
"Having the hazard pay was really nice. It made us feel more comfortable to do, like, grocery orders instead of going to the store and allow us to be a little bit more protective," Goodfellow acknowledged. "Then, as time went on, the cost of things went up, and it's not a bonus at this point."
Goodfellow's union, Service Employees International Union Local 775, was instrumental in negotiating hazard pay for caregivers. Hazard pay was offered to essential workers who were in vulnerable positions as COVID-19 spread.
Goodfellow looks after her mother and a friend, as well as taking care of her son, and pointed out caregivers are struggling.
"Good pay for caregivers is really important," Goodfellow asserted. "I mean, we help seniors, we help people with disabilities. I know my situation isn't unique. I hate to say it, but sometimes it feels like I kind of almost chose poverty so that I could care for my family."
Goodfellow added benefits beyond pay are important as well, such as affordable health care, retirement and paid time off which does not inhibit her ability to pay the bills.
get more stories like this via email
Groups fighting for Palestinian rights are praising a new fact sheet on religious discrimination from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for …
Lawmakers and immigrants-rights activists in the Commonwealth are hoping to pass the Language Access and Inclusion Act, which would dramatically …
New U.S. Department of Agriculture rules will target fraud and increase oversight of the $64 billion-a-year organic food industry. In Iowa, the …
By Jennifer Weiss-Wolf for Ms. Magazine.Broadcast version by Eric Galatas for Colorado News Connection reporting for the Ms. Magazine-Public News …
North Dakota's plan to boost animal agriculture has reignited a thorny issue: loosening restrictions on corporate ownership of farms. The state said …
Oregon is pursuing an aggressive climate plan to switch to renewable energy sources, but it faces one often overlooked issue: enough high-voltage …
A measure in the Washington State Legislature would provide free school meals to K-12 students, but nutrition service workers are worried they are …
Advocates and stakeholders have solutions for the Virginia Employment Commission to get through its backlog of unemployment appeal cases. According …