October 5th, 2015 – The addition of new employment data for the 2nd quarter of 2015 obtained from the Current Population Survey’s Basic Monthly files shows the RN workforce again increasing toward 3 million FTE (2,916,000).

2015 Q2 total fte

However, the figure below shows that 2nd quarter employment continued to move in opposite directions when RNs were grouped by hospital versus non-hospital employment settings.

Q2 FTE by Industry

In hospitals RN employment grew rapidly during the 2nd quarter, increasing by approximately 76,000 RNs, and bringing total FTE RN hospital employment to approximately 1.86 million (compared to 1.06 million FTE RNs employed in hospitals at the end of 2014). The percentage of RNs employed in hospitals reached 63.7%. This trend is noteworthy in that inpatient utilization has been steadily declining for years, and we will continue to track hospital employment carefully in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the number of RNs employed as FTEs in non-hospital settings decreased in the 2nd quarter of 2015, falling by nearly 40,000 FTEs.

With regard to the age composition of the RN workforce, the addition of 2nd quarter data for 2015 adds further confidence to the conclusion that the decade-long surge in young RNs has leveled off, with the proportion of RNs under age 35 falling to 28% from a peak of nearly 30% in the first quarter of 2014. The workforce growth of roughly 40,000 FTE since the fourth quarter of 2014 has occurred entirely from RNs age 35 and older.

Q2 RN by Age


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.