The demands of family caregiving are costing U.S. businesses nearly $34 billion per year, and families are being burdened with as much as $77,447 in paid and unpaid care costs annually, according to two new studies released by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, Westport, Conn.
The total cost to U.S. companies of 15.9 million full-time workers engaged in caregiving is $33.6 billion in 2006. The research team at Towson University, Towson, Md., and Portland State University, Portland, Ore., attributed about half of this amount ($17.1 billion) to the 7 million workers who bear the more intensive care loads. (Researchers gauged intensity levels based on their five-level Burden Index, which measured hours of caregiving per week and the number of daily activities for which care recipients required assistance.) Employees handling heavier caregiving duties cost employers $2,441 per year, on average, for such factors as absenteeism, workday interruptions and supervisory time. This sum compared with $2,110 annually per worker overall.
The study, conducted in conjunction with the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC), Bethesda, Md., showed an increase of approximately $4 billion in both overall and intensive-care categories since 1997, when the research was first conducted.
The researchers also reported that overall, full-time employees who are also caregivers included 52% men and 48% women. Of the 2.4% of employees who leave the workforce entirely to be caregivers, the total cost to replace them in 2006 is $6.6 billion.
"Employers would help their organizations, their caregiving employees and their noncaregiving employees by putting assistance programs and accommodating work arrangements in place," said NAC president and CEO Gail Hunt. …