August 4, 2021

Undervalued Yet Indispensable: Florida's Domestic Workforce

Executive Summary

Florida’s domestic workers, a vital part of the state’s essential workforce who care for and provide in-home cleaning services to families, children, seniors, and people with disabilities, faced numerous barriers to fiscal stability even before the pandemic hit. These roadblocks — exacerbated by COVID-19 and the subsequent economic recession — include meager wages, unsafe and unstable working conditions, and lack of state and federal protections afforded other working people.

Florida Policy Institute (FPI) took a deeper look into this essential workforce and found the following: 

  • 55.3 percent of domestic workers are immigrants, while just 26 percent of other working Floridians are. Almost a third (30 percent) of domestic workers are undocumented, or lacking legal status to remain in the country.
  • 94 percent are women, while just 47 percent of other working Floridians are. This is on par with the national average.
  • Latina/o and Black Floridians are overrepresented in the domestic workforce. They account for 42.8 and 23.7 percent of domestic workers, respectively; however, Latina/o workers comprise 27.2 percent of Florida’s overall workforce, while Black Floridians comprise 14.8 percent.
  • Miami is home to the greatest share of the state’s domestic workforce. There are 56,000 domestic workers in the Miami-area, which is 48.1 percent of the state’s domestic workforce.
  • Latina/o and immigrant Floridians comprise a markedly higher share of domestic workers in the Miami-metro area. While 43 percent of Florida’s domestic workers are Latina/o, 62 percent of Miami-area domestic workers are. Strikingly, 84 percent of the Miami MSA’s domestic workers are immigrants, compared to 55 percent of state domestic workers who are.
  • Domestic workers are paid 40 percent less than the median wage of all other workers. Domestic workers in Florida are paid a median wage of $12.19/hour, compared to the median wage of $19.20 for other workers.

To counter this historical discrimination, Florida’s Congressional Delegation should support the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which was re-introduced on July 29, 2021. This measure would ensure that more than 115,000 working Floridians (and domestic workers nationwide):

  • receive written contracts of scheduled hours and time off, including breaks, overtime, and sick days;
  • are protected against harassment and discrimination;
  • receive sufficient termination notice (for live-in workers) and pay for client-canceled last-minute shifts;
  • can collectively bargain for improved wages and workplace conditions;
  • have access to a new National Domestic Worker Hotline and workforce training; and
  • receive increased access to retirement and health care benefits.

Importantly, the measure would protect all employees, whether undocumented or not. Alternatively, Florida policymakers could model the national legislation to create a statewide Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, as 10 other states have done over the past decade.

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