Which States Will Need Nurses Most in 2014?

by Tera Tuten on October 9, 2012


This past March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that job growth in the healthcare sector was outpacing growth from 2011, accounting for one out of every 5 new jobs created this year.

What’s especially interesting about these numbers is that about 75% of those healthcare jobs are – and will be – in nursing.

While not every nursing school graduate and current nurse looking for work found a job in 2012 (and many who did find jobs did so only after many months of searching and interviewing), population growth, an aging workforce, and an aging population will likely create an ongoing need for many more nurses in virtually every state…

A growing shortfall…

By 2015, the U.S. Department of Health projects that 400,000 new nurses will be needed just to fill vacancies left by retirees.

By 2020, the U.S. Government predicts that it will be short between 800,000 and one million new and replacement nurses. (Including being short close to 117,000 nurses in California alone.)

A Johns Hopkins/Cleveland Clinic study in 2011 stated that the number of states receiving a grade of D or F for their RN “shortage ratio” will have increased from 5 in 2009 to 30 by 2030.

Where will the jobs be? 2014, and beyond:


According to Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections 2010-2020, released this past February, the Registered Nursing workforce will be the top U.S. occupation in terms of job growth through 2020 and is expected to grow from 2.74 million nurses in 2010 to 3.45 million in 2020.

So as the demand for nurses to fill positions theoretically outstrips supply, in which state will you be most needed (and where will you most want to go)?

The top 10 States with the Most Nursing Job Openings (based on 2010/2011 data) are:

1. California                  10,900

2. Florida                      7,440

3. New York                  6,360

4. Ohio                         4,630

5. North Carolina          4,093

6. Illinois                       4,020

7. New Jersey               3,700

8. Michigan                   3,500

9. Georgia                     3,340

10. Massachusetts        3,290

A large portion of the approximately 712,000 new nursing jobs that experts estimate will need to be created in the next few years will be in Western states (though it’s Eastern states that seem to have the most jobs available today, whether or not they’re having trouble filling them), with California’s population base, quality-of-life, highest number of nursing positions open, and highest-hourly pay standing out particularly.

Highest hourly wages for nurses

State                Salary (hourly)    (based on 2010/2011 data 2010/2011)

1. California                  $25.45

2. Hawaii                       $24.76

3. Massachusetts          $23.38

4. New Jersey               $23.33

5. Alaska                       $23.09

6. Delaware                  $22.98

7. Oregon                     $22.91

8. Nevada                     $22.83

9. Maryland                   $22.79

10. Connecticut             $22.66

Nurse administrators and faculty needed too

In October 2010, the Institute of Medicine released a report which called for 80% more baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the workforce and doubling the population of nurses with doctoral degrees. (The current U.S. nursing workforce boasts 50% of registered nurses prepared at the baccalaureate or graduate degree level, with most of those nurses at the baccalaureate level.)

The report highlighted what is perhaps an equally large problem: There aren’t enough nurses qualified to teach as many nursing students as could be available or lead teams of medical professionals as nurse administrators and/or nurse practitioners.

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