Employment drop confined to hospitals - Decline in employment across all age groups

 

NOTE:  Data on RN full-time-equivalent (FTE) employment have been adjusted.  Beginning with this posting, an FTE RN is now defined as working 40 hours per week. This change in definition is made to eliminate a source of variance between the definition of an FTE between the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies and the Health Resources Services and Administration.  For further information see the forthcoming article “Improving Nursing Workforce Forecasts: Comparative Analysis of the Cohort Supply Model and the Health Workforce Simulation Model” (Auerbach, D., Chattopadhyay, A., Zangaro, G., Staiger, D., & Buerhaus, P.) that will be published in the November/December 2017 issue ofNursing Economic$.

 

As shown below, during the third quarter of 2017, the total number of FTE RNs in the workforce dipped to just under 3 million from 3.1 million in the previous quarter. Part of the drop could be due to random fluctuations in the data. We will continue to monitor the workforce carefully to assess whether the rapid growth in RNs from roughly 2.5 million RNs in 2010 to 3 million in 2016 (20%) has paused and flattened out. 

 

total fte graph 3q 2017 data

                                Source: Authors’ analysis of the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey

 

The decrease in employment was confined almost entirely to the hospital sector, with the lowest employment totals recorded in hospitals since the first quarter of 2016. 

 

FTE by sector 3q 2017

                                  Source: Authors’ analysis of the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey

 

The 2017 3rd quarter decrease in employment occurred across all age groups. FTE RNs age 50 and over showed the largest decrease (nearly 60,000), followed by RNs age 35-49 years (decrease of 48,000), and the youngest group of RNs (decrease of 37,000).  The percentage of all RNs under age 35 remained near a decades-long high of 29.9%. 

FTE by age 3q 2017

                                 Source: Authors’ analysis of the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey

 

The average hourly wage for FTE RNs decreased slightly in the third quarter of 2017. The large fluctuations in hourly wage data reflects the limited sample size of the quarterly data. Real wages remain below where they were in early 2010. 

FTE wage 3q 2017

                               Source: Authors’ analysis of the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey