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Why the decline in maids and domestic workers is hurting your family
The Atlantic's Ester Bloom reported this week that there's been a severe decline in the amount of domestic workers over the last century, and that's hurt American families. - photo by Herb Scribner
Feel like youre stretched for time?

It may be because you dont have a maid to help with the housework.

On Wednesday, The Atlantics Ester Bloom reported that theres been a decrease in the amount of Americans working as maids and domestic workers, which are professions that used to populate American homes. Back in the late 19th century, more than 50 percent of employed women worked in domestic service, and that number only grew throughout the early 20th century.

It wasnt until the 1960s when women, who made up the bulk of maids and domestic workers, entered the workforce en masse that the decline dropped even more, according to The Atlantic.

In recent years, this has put families in dire straits when it comes to housework.

Fewer families today can afford the household support that was available to previous generations; paying even a part-time nanny on the books can be a time-consuming and expensive bureaucratic procedure, Bloom wrote.

And that could not come at a worse time for American families since men and women are overly busy with housework because of the increasing demands of office jobs. The Pew Research Center found in 2013 that men and women spend 9.3 and 15.5 hours a week on housework, respectively. Men also spend 2.5 hours a week on child care, while women spend 5.8 hours doing the same.

This only grows when they have a child. Housework increased to 9.5 hours for men and 17.7 for women once they had a child, while child care increased to 7 hours a week for men and 13.6 for women, according to Pew.

Nowadays, many working parents need more help and have access to less, Bloom wrote for The Atlantic.

But while a domestic worker or nanny might help with housework, it could have negative affects on the family. A 2013 study published in the Hamdan Medical Journal found that motherchild attachment is adversely affected by the presence of maids, which could prove detrimental to the psychosocial development of affected children.

Nannies and houseworkers sometimes create a separation between a mother and child, which may cause the youngster to develop issues with insecurity as they grow up and make them less likely to develop personal relationships with others, the study said.

Those issues could eventually lead to high divorce rates and crime rates, according to the study.

Despite these potential issues, domestic workers still exist and often advocate for better working conditions and higher pay, according to The Atlantic.

Most working conditions arent as youd expect. Modern domestic workers often report that their workplace, typically a home, isnt safe, AOL reported.

Although you might think of the home as a safe and humane space, the report finds that it can be a hazardous workplace, according to AOL. Domestic laborers climb to hard-to-reach places, scrub on their knees, move heavy furniture and use toxic cleaning products.

And salaries still arent high, either, despite the essential tasks domestic workers complete, according to a 2011 survey from the National Domestic Workers Alliance, which found that one in four domestic workers are paid below their states minimum wage.

In fact, some reported earning as little as $1.50 an hour.

Most domestic workers, if hired, also find themselves in danger of losing their jobs.

Domestic workers find themselves on constantly shifting terrain with respect to their employment agreements both verbal and written, the NDWA reported. Their accounts confirm the costs of contesting working conditions, for when they speak to the injustices they endure they often find themselves to be disposable in the eyes of employers.

But, as Bloom reported for The Atlantic, there have been increasing efforts by labor organizers to inspire fairer pay for domestic workers and potentially create unions for those workers.

That is an unalloyed good, Bloom wrote. It may make running a household more difficult and cause todays working men and women to wonder if they can have it all, but it also means that domestic workers at last have the opportunity to try to have it all as well."