This is one episode in a series of episodes about care in America. In our previous episode, we talked about care at the end of life. And this week, we’re talking about the kind of care that picks up where we leave off. The kind of care that shows up when our loved ones are sick or dying and we can’t be there around the clock. The kind of care that wipes our babies’ butts and feeds them and snuggles them while we go to work. The kind of care that scrubs the floors or does the dishes for us.
It’s all the work we talked about in the first episode of this series with Eve Rodsky — the work we do for our loved ones, but done by people who are paid to do it when we can’t or when we don’t want to.
We’ve had all of these conversations in and around the pandemic — and if you’re listening in the far future, it’s a weird time. For everyone. Unemployment rates have hit records highs in the U.S. And the pandemic has been an absolute crisis for domestic workers especially. The National Domestic Workers Alliance found in their research that less than a third of care workers received the $1,200 stimulus check, and many have been unable to make rent payments for at least six consecutive months.
Domestic workers tend to be women — primarily women of color — but today, we’re talking to Jonny, a house cleaner who lives in Seattle, Washington.
How did it come to be that health care is the largest sector of employment in the United States? And why is health care work so much more precarious...