Labor markets are tight, but data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest a few groups that senior living and care operators might want to court for new workers, National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care Chief Economist Beth Burnham Mace said Friday.

“We have a national unemployment rate of 3.5%, and in certain parts of the country, that unemployment rate is even less than 3.5%,” she said during a presentation during the organization’s Spring Conference in San Diego. “Businesses are trying to get creative in where they can draw their labor, and a lot of businesses now are actually going outside the workforce trying to get people back into the labor market,” Mace said later.

The chief economist examined the BLS numbers and noticed three groups in particular that could offer opportunities for providers.

Unemployment among 16- to-19-year-olds, for instance, is 11%, according to numbers released Friday.

“High school students have a pretty high unemployment rate relative to what the average is,” Mace said. “So this might be an opportunity to go into high schools … and try to recruit students.”

Many operators already are pursuing workers that way, the chief economist acknowledged.

“Because there are more tracks right now for kids not necessarily going on to college, a lot of operators are going into the high schools trying to bring these kids in and training them, getting them some experience and then providing them education opportunities as they go along,” she said.

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Another potential source of workers is in a group the BLS calls “women residing with one or more family members, but not an opposite sex spouse,” Mace said. Unemployment in that group in December was 4.2% versus 3.5% for the population overall.

These women represent “not a huge opportunity, but it might be a way to go out and try to recruit some women, at least on a part-time basis, to come in,” Mace said. “These might be women who are taking care of ill relatives or have dropped out of the workforce or might be looking for a part-time opportunity for a job.”

The third group of potential recruits, according to the chief economist, is 20- to 24-year-old men. Unemployment in this group as of December was 7.2%, more than twice the unemployment rate seen in the overall population.