Based on the July 2011 AARP report, Valuing the Invaluable 2011 Update: The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving, 1.2 million North Carolinians act as unpaid caregivers to an elderly family member. The rising elderly population in North Carolina has increased the demand for family caregivers. And with the recent economic downturn and budget cuts to health care, there is a heavier strain on economic stability for caregivers and their families statewide.
Workers, who also act as family caregivers, experience a multitude of issues such as: lost earnings, access to social security benefits, and reduced job security.
A lack of support for workers who are caregivers in North Carolina uncovers issues for not only the caregivers themselves, but also employers. The AARP report states that a loss of $33.6 billion per year can be attributed to a decrease in productivity based on employee’s absenteeism from the workplace in order to handle an array of caregiving obligations. Employers are also paying 8% more for caregivers in health care benefits because of reoccurring cases of depression and stress.
Supporting workers who are caregivers is critical, as Connecticut realized this year (click here to read more). North Carolina can and should do more to put in place family-friendly workplace policies, like improving the Family and Medical Leave Act and passing the Healthy Families Act, which would give all North Carolinians a chance to earn paid sick days.