Key Findings: 

  • Employment increases primarily in non-hospital settings

  • Rise in employment across all age groups

 

As shown below, in the fourth quarter of 2017 the total number of full time equivalent (FTE) RNs increased to 3.1 million after a dipping to under 3 million in the third quarter of 2017. 

2017 4q total fte  Source: Authors’ analysis of the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey

 

 The increase in employment occurred almost entirely in the non-hospital sector, which grew by 100,000 FTE RNs during the 4th quarter of 2017.

 

2017 4q hp v nhp

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

 

The 2017 4th quarter increase in employment occurred across all age groups. FTE RNs age 35-49 increased the most (nearly 50,000), followed by RNs age 50 and over (increase of 36,000), while the youngest group of RNs (under 35) increase by 26,000. The percentage of all RNs under age 35 remains near a decade-long high of 30%.

 

2017 4q fte by age

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

 

The average hourly wage for FTE RNs decreased slightly in the fourth quarter of 2017. The large fluctuations in hourly wage data reflects the limited sample size of the quarterly data. Real wages (wages adjusted for inflation) continue to vary between $27.00 and $29.00 per hour. 

 

2017 4q wages

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

 

NOTE: An RN working 40 hours per week is defined as full-time equivalent (FTE). 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 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.) published in the November/December 2017 issue of Nursing Economic$.