Employee caregivers on the rise

There are an estimated 53 million caregivers in the United States,1 and this number has exponentially increased with the emergence of new groups of caregivers during the pandemic. Today’s caregivers might be teaching young children at home, caring for aging parents, and supporting sick relatives or family members with chronic illness or disabilities—often while balancing the demands of a full‑time job.

Longevity adds to caregiving challenges

The U.S. population is growing older and living longer than ever before, transforming our society, health care and retirement systems, and expectations for our later years. According to U.S. Census Bureau projections, by 2034, there will be more Americans over the age of 65 than under the age of 18.2 Older adults could need care and financial resources for 20, 30 or even 40 years after traditional retirement age, yet most are not planning for this possibility.3

These trends will not only increase the need for caregivers over an extended period of time, they will also present additional financial challenges. Caregivers may struggle to balance their own financial goals with the financial responsibilities of caregiving, with 92% of caregivers reporting that they are performing at least one aspect of financial caregiving.4 In fact, one out of three caregivers between the ages of 50 and 64 are dipping into savings at a time when they should be saving for retirement, which could jeopardize their long-term financial security.5

Caregivers in the workplace

Sixty percent of caregivers are also working,5 which could have implications for employers as well. As employees strive to balance work and caregiving, organizations could potentially experience lost productivity, reduced retention, increased absenteeism, declining employee mental and physical health, and increased medical costs. With women accounting for two-thirds of caregivers,3 women in the workforce are often hit hardest, sometimes having to make a difficult choice between caring for family and earning a paycheck. Over the past year, nearly three million women—especially Black and Latina women—have disproportionately left the workforce due to caregiving demands.6

Key takeaways

As we look ahead to National Caregiving Month in November, consider supporting your workforce of caregivers by:

Developing, or updating an existing, caregiver resource list with contact information for community organizations and agencies that can offer assistance and support in areas such as financial planning, elder law, home health care and meal delivery.

Creating and publicizing employee caregiving support groups.

Considering new child and senior care benefits, or enhancing existing benefits, to offer features such as flexibility around when and where work gets done and expanded mental health support.

1 AARP, “1 in 5 Americans Now Provide Unpaid Family Care,” June 2020.

2 U.S. Census Bureau, “2020 Census Will Help Policymakers Prepare for the Incoming Wave of Aging Boomers,” December 10, 2019.

3 Bank of America, Caregiving in the age of longevity: A diversity and inclusion perspective, February 2021.

4 Age Wave/Merrill, The Journey of Caregiving: Honor, Responsibility and Financial Complexity, 2017.

5 AARP, “Caregiving in the U.S. 2020,” May 2020.

6 Harvard Business Review, “The pandemic is changing employee benefits,” April 2021.