Home Economics: the lives of domestic workers

The National Domestic Workers Alliance issued a report titled Home Economics which reveals much about the working conditions of domestic workers. A large share of domestic workers are immigrants.
Key findings in the report:
Domestic workers earn substandard pay, and enjoy little economic mobility or financial security.
Formal employment contracts are rare in the domestic work industry, and where work agreements do exist, employers frequently violate them.
Employers think of their homes as safe, yet domestic work can be hazardous.
Domestic workers who encounter problems frequently feel too vulnerable to stand up for themselves, especially live-in workers and undocumented immigrants.
The survey revealed that substandard working conditions are pervasive in the domestic work industry. Wage rates are low, the work is often hazardous, and workers rarely have effective recourse to improve substandard conditions.
A few of the facts in the report:
About a third of domestic workers nationwide are foreign born. About two thirds of domestic workers in major metropolitan areas are foreign born.
23 percent of workers surveyed are paid below the state minimum wage.
The median hourly wage of live-in workers is $6.15.
Less than 9 percent work for employers who pay into Social Security.
60 percent spend more than half of their income on rent or mortgage payments.
85 percent of undocumented immigrants who encountered problems with their working conditions in the prior 12 months did not complain because they feared their immigration status would be used against them.

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