March 16, 2015: Using data from the Current Population Survey’s Basic Monthly files, the nearby Figure shows the latest quarterly data on FTE RN employment in hospitals and non-hospital settings.   The addition of new employment data on FTE RNs during the 4th quarter of 2014 shows that hospital employment continued to decrease, a trend that had started earlier in the 2nd quarter of the year.   At the end of 2014, hospital FTE RN employment stood at approximately 1.73 million, compared to 1.82 million at the same point in time in 2013 (a decrease of nearly 90,000 FTEs).

Meanwhile, in non-hospital settings, employment growth accelerated sharply in the 4th quarter.  This growth brought the total number of RN FTEs working in non-hospital settings to an estimated 1.14 million at the end of 2014, which is about 20,000 more FTE RNs compared to the end of the previous year.  Despite this strong 4th quarter growth in 2014, employment in non-hospital settings is below the FTE RN employment of 1.24 million recorded in the 1st quarter of 2013.


The addition of 4th quarter data on RNs by age shows that the trend in the previous four quarters, which suggested strong replacement of older RNs with younger RNs, moderated. Compared to the prior quarter, FTE employment of RNs over age 50 was higher by approximately 50,000 but was relatively flat among RNs under age 35.



Quarterly data are compiled from the Current Population Survey basic monthly files, which are released with roughly a one-month delay. These data contain basic demographic and labor force variables for all respondents, as well as wage and hourly data for a portion of the respondents. Quarterly statistics are reported as an average of the three months’ values; trends are estimated using a time-series filter to remove cycles up to two years in a period.

Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies, Quarterly Update No. 2
March 2015
Peter Buerhaus, David Auerbach, Douglas Staiger, and Christine Friedman