The Quiet Cost of Family Caregiving

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Many employees reduce their hours or stop working to help ailing family members. But it may be years before they fully return to the work force, studies indicate. An estimated 22 to 26 million American adults currently provide care for family members or friends, most of them older people, who need help with daily activities; more than half of those caregivers have jobs. Caregivers who are employed often reduce their work hours or leave the workplace altogether, research has shown. Several recent studies, however, reveal the impact of these decisions in more detail, not only on working caregivers but on employers and the general economy. Among those who became caregivers, employment dropped almost 8 percent compared to demographically similar non-caregivers, the authors found. “It happens right away, in the first year,” Dr. Truskinovsky said. “We see little evidence that they either reduce hours or switch to self-employment. They leave the labor force and remain out of it for quite a long time.” Moreover, there were significant gender differences among those exiting the work force.

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