The direct support professionals that many people with disabilities rely on are barely getting by, with new data showing they make little more than minimum wage despite surging demand.

The median hourly wage for home care workers is $10.49, but due to varying hours, those in the field typically make just $13,800 per year.

The figures come from an annual report out this month from PHI — a group that works to promote the direct support workforce — that’s based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Low wages have persisted in the direct support workforce even as the number of people working in the field has more than doubled in the last decade, PHI said.

When adjusted for inflation, the report found that hourly wages for home care workers are up just 16 cents compared to 2006.

About 1 in 5 home care workers lives below the federal poverty line and more than half rely on public assistance. The majority work part-time or only a portion of the year, according to PHI.

The picture is only marginally better for nursing assistants working in people’s homes, PHI found, with those jobs netting a median wage of $12.34 per hour or roughly $20,000 annually.

“This important research continues to paint a troubling picture: direct care workers cannot afford to stay in these jobs, and when they eventually leave the sector, many families struggle to care for their loved ones without the support they need,” said Kezia Scales, director of policy research at PHI.

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