The $234 billion job that goes unpaid

Nearly 9 in 10 Americans who need some form of long-term care get that assistance from family members or friends who volunteer their time. But what if they got paid? We take a look at the numbers.


Nearly 9 in 10 Americans who need some form of long-term care (LTC) get that assistance from family members or friends who volunteer their time. More than a third of these 'informal' caregivers are taking care of an aging parent, and assist with tasks like getting in and out of bed, going to the bathroom, eating, housework and transportation.

So what is the economic cost when mom moves in because she's not quite able to take care of herself, but you either can't afford or do not want to send her to a nursing home just yet?

The answer: quite a bit. In 2011 the Congressional Budget Office estimated the value provided by informal LTC caregivers doing home-aide type services was worth a whopping $234 billion. To see just how much that sum is, we put it into context of the GDP, the federal budget and Facebook, among other things.

See the full breakdown in our infographic here.

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