How Raising Incomes for Low-Wage Workers Boosts the Economy: A Study of Washington State’s Home Care Workforce

This report explores the impact of wage increases on statewide economic activity through a study of the potential impacts of increasing wages for state-paid home care workers in Washington state to $15 per hour. The report also analyzes the potential local economic impact of this wage increase on five counties: Adams, Clark, Cowlitz, King, and Spokane. In Washington state, public home care workers are paid through the state Medicaid program to provide support for seniors and people with disabilities to remain in their homes. Home care is provided either by an individual worker who directly contracts with the state, known as an “individual provider,” or workers hired by private home care agencies. The analysis in this report focuses on the 34,686 state-paid individual provider home care workers for which detailed wage data is readily available from Service Employees International Union 775, the union that represents these workers. A $15 minimum wage for home care workers would impact 81 percent of the state’s individual provider workforce. The economic analysis in this report is focused on the impact and projected spending on workers – for wage increases up to $15 per hour.