Breaking Down Today’s Senior Living Workforce By the Numbers

It’s well known that staffing—and all that it involves—has kept many senior living executives up at night, and now, a new report from senior living industry organization Argentum has quantified the labor crisis facing the sector.

For the report, Argentum analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census’ 2016 American Community Survey (ACS). The senior living industry employed roughly 892,000 people in 2016, Argentum noted, citing statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. To meet future demand, the sector will have to recruit and retain 300,000 more employees by 2026.

Today’s senior living workforce is relatively young—28% of workers are younger than 30, and 37% are between the ages of 30 and 49, the report says.


Some senior living positions may soon experience higher rates of employee retirement than others. That’s because individuals 65 years old and older comprise 10% of senior living employees who work in business operations and 13% of employees who work in administrative support.

Approximately 60% of all senior living workers are involved in resident care—whether it can be classified as personal care or health care. Nearly 20% of today’s personal care workers in senior living were born outside of the United States, and approximately 8% of personal care workers are not U.S. citizens.


Meanwhile, almost 20% of current health care workers in senior living were born outside of the United States, and 6% are not U.S. citizens.

Operators have long touted the importance of immigration in building up and maintaining a strong senior living workforce.

“Anything that curtails the ability of our immigrant workforce to stay intact is problematic,” Lynne Katzmann, president and CEO of Bloomfield, New Jersey-based Juniper Communities, told Senior Housing News in September 2017. “They form a critical part of our community teams. Without them, the labor shortage we all face will only worsen.”

All the while, data show that men are beginning to take jobs more traditionally done by women in senior living, according to Argentum.

In all senior living job groups—health care, personal care, business operations, management, administrative support, food service, and cleaning and maintenance—the percentage of workers younger than 30 is greater among men than women. This difference by gender is especially large among younger food service and health care workers, the report says.

Still, women comprise 80% of the senior living workforce, and women make up almost 70% of the individuals holding management jobs overall.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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