Care workers are taking their jobs to another state.
They’re losing their union rights and their health benefits, but their paychecks are going up.
The number of workers who have gone unpaid for more than a month hit 1.7 million, up from 1.2 million last year, according to a survey released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor.
The survey, which included data from nearly 400,000 workers and employers, showed that the number of unpaid care workers nationwide fell from 1,717,000 in 2016 to 905,000 this year.
In Florida, where care workers have been organizing for months, more than one in three workers are now working without a union contract.
“There’s no question that care workers are in a really precarious situation right now,” said Julie Bourgeois, a professor of public policy at the University of Miami Law School and an expert on care workers.
“There’s a very real risk of losing a job, of losing your health benefits if you’re not paid.”
The rise in unpaid care is not the first time that Florida’s labor market has been hit by the recession.
In 2010, Florida was hit hard by a devastating wave of unpaid medical workers’ strikes, as the state struggled to keep up with rising demand for care workers and its dwindling supply of qualified nurses.
A federal judge ruled in favor of the workers and ordered that all non-exempt workers in Florida’s private health care system be paid $9.9 million.
The Florida legislature repealed that ruling in 2012.
But state labor officials have repeatedly called for workers to be paid for work they’ve performed in private clinics.
The number of unpaid care workers in the state fell from about 10,000 to less than 6,000 last year.
Bourgeois said there are a number of factors that make it more difficult for care providers to find paid work.
For one, the number working in private care clinics has increased in recent years, driven by a rise in the number who are younger and healthier than in previous years.
She said that younger workers have more disposable income, which is helping to offset the loss of union members.
The rise of private care workers has been particularly acute in rural areas, where the majority of care workers live.
There are many fewer workers who qualify for Medicare, and many are elderly.
But, Bourgeois pointed out, a lack of training and education also contributes to the problem.
“We have a population that’s much more likely to need health care than other populations,” Bourgeois told reporters.
“They are not as educated and they’re not as well educated.”
She said the federal government has a role to play in ensuring that care providers can continue to offer quality care, but it should be done through the federal system rather than through private companies.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it has launched a pilot program to monitor how workers are performing in private and public clinics.
In addition to paying workers, the program also offers job protections and pays for their health insurance, according a press release.
In a statement, the federal agency said it is committed to ensuring that all Americans receive quality health care and that care and workers receive fair compensation for their services.
“The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides for the establishment of universal health insurance coverage for all Americans,” the agency said.
“The provision also sets forth standards for payment for care and provides incentives for health care providers who are providing quality care to Americans.”