Sources of New Workers and Job Mobility in Long-Term Care

Despite the substantial number of people employed in the long-term care industry, little was known as to where the LTC industry draws its supply of workers and the pathway by which workers enter the industry. This project analyzed job mobility of long-term care workers, and the characteristics of those who enter and exit LTC jobs. The analysis identified the occupations and industries from which long-term care workers are drawn, and the fields that workers enter if they leave LTC.


Key Questions

  1. What are the demographic and socioeconomic profile of entrants into LTC occupations and settings?
  2. From which industries and occupations does LTC draw workers?
  3. What is the demographic profile of people who leave LTC jobs?
  4. To which industries and occupations do LTC workers go upon leaving LTC?
  5. For those who stay in the LTC industry, do they change occupations?

This study was conducted in partnership with the George Washington University Health Workforce Research Center.
Contact the project lead, Joanne Spetz 



Although the long-term care (LTC) industry expects substantial growth in employment opportunities to meet the growing health care demands of aging Baby Boomers, the rate of exit from long-term care jobs is outpacing the rate of entry. This is a major finding of our report examining the demographics, socioeconomic status, and job mobility of workers by LTC sector and occupation.

In the HWRC report “Entry and Exit of Workers in Long-Term Care,” co-authors Bianca Frogner, PhD, of the University of Washington, and Joanne Spetz, PhD, professor at the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and HWRC director found that LTC employs a high share of low-skilled workers, and that as of 2013, nearly all LTC workers were women. Minorities represented about 40 percent of the workforce, which was higher than the national average of 21 percent of the overall U.S. labor force. A large share of LTC workers lives in poverty, and many who leave LTC jobs become unemployed or leave the labor force.

The authors propose that future research explore the longer-term employment paths of LTC workers and recommend policymakers consider investments in education and training to ensure an adequately trained workforce that remains in the LTC industry.