About 70,000, Oregonians spend much of their time caring for other people, according to a new report by Family Forward Oregon and the Service Employees International Union. That’s the equivalent of the population of Medford.
The new report, titled Oregon Care Economy, also shows that 88 percent of care workers are women, and that on average they only make minimum wage — about $20,000 a year.
The groups behind the report had tried to find more revenue this fall by backing Measure 97, a corporate tax measure that would have raised billions for the state. But it failed by 59 percent.
Lili Hoag, the director the CareWorks, said the report is designed to kick-off an effort to improve the lives of care workers heading into the 2017 legislative session.
“What we really want to do is start a conversation about the value of care,” Hoag said. “We recognize that this is going to be a long-term project. There’s no silver bullet fix, but we do have a policy agenda for 2017.”
That agenda aims to create affordable, accessible, quality care that leads to family-wage jobs.
Hoag said no one should lose their income or job when they take time off work to have a baby or need to care for a seriously ill family member.
But changes to workers rights take time, and more importantly money.
When the legislature convenes this month, it faces a $1.7 billion deficit and many funding priorities, such as health care, transportation and public employee retirement funds.