Aging population will come down on US economy like a ‘ton of bricks,’ Biden official says

The current norm of relying on women to care for relatives for free is unsustainable, said the U.S. Commerce Secretary.
Seniors wait in line to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Seniors wait in line to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Photo credit Octavio Jones/Getty Images
By , Audacy

Aging demographics of the United States’ population will come down on the country’s economy “like a ton of bricks” without a substantial increase to federal spending for elderly care, according to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

The current situation is “untenable,” Raimondo told Reuters in an interview, and lack of action by the federal government could force many families, primarily women, to stay home to care for elderly parents.

The Biden administration official said there is a severe shortage of caregivers as baby boomers become senior citizens. The most currently available Census data estimates 17% of the U.S. population are over 65, or 54 million. By 2030, that number will grow to 74 million, experts say.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo testifies during a Senate hearing in May.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo testifies during a Senate hearing in May. Photo credit Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Biden is working to garner support to spend $400 billion over the next decade on at-home care for the elderly and disabled that Commerce Secretary Raimondo told Reuters the economy desperately needs. But not all Democratic lawmakers support the proposed amount, she said. With Democrats’ slim majority in the Senate, getting the funds will “be a battle.”

The pandemic pushed many women out of the workforce. 1.5 million women – who left their jobs to care for their children, elderly parents, or disabled relatives – have not yet returned to work, said the commerce secretary.

“We can’t afford for half of our workforce – women – to be held back and held out of the workforce because they can’t get excellent and adequate childcare or eldercare,” Raimondo told Reuters. She further described the modern norm – women caring for relatives for free or women of color providing cheap childcare – as unsustainable.

“Just giving those women a raise would be a huge boost to our economy,” she said.

“It is a crisis,” Raimondo continued. “And a huge drag on the economy if we don’t get it done.”

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Octavio Jones/Getty Images