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Nursing salaries and job security

Published on July 23rd, 2009

Link to Modernmedicine.com of tables summarizing data from RN Magazine’s Salary Survey of nurses’ salaries. See results.  Nursing is one of the most difficult but rewarding careers to have, and the future looks good.

The past two years have seen stagnant wages, eroding benefits, and feared or actual layoffs as recession swamped the economy.  However, the vast majority of nurses enjoy rising fortunes. Their average wages have echoed the double-digit percentage increases of the mid-2000s—with even sharper raises for select nursing specialties and settings.

The average annual base pay of salaried nurses (who typically hold management or administrative positions) grew 10%, or $6,746, to $75,180. Nurses paid by the hour fared even better; their average base earnings rose 13% ($7,460), to $64,018. Combined, hourly and salaried nurses received $7,270 more on average, for a 12% raise to an overall base pay of $65,653.

The article concludes that nursing salaries will remain lucrative:

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed in February 2009, allocated $500 million toward the National Health Service Corps and Nursing Workforce Development Programs, to boost funding for nurse education and create nursing jobs in underserved areas.

With a Democratic president and Congress, and a recent alliance among three nursing associations with the AFL-CIO to address healthcare, union, and nursing-workplace issues, nurses’ union membership may rise, which past RN surveys have linked to higher salaries.

Demand for nurses will only increase. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipated in 2006 that 587,000 new nursing positions would open over the next 10 years.   As older nurses reduce their hours or retire, gaps in existing positions could raise that demand to 1.1 million.   And nursing schools are having trouble hiring sufficient faculty to accept all qualified applicants.   If the faculty chokepoint isn’t resolved, new nurses could bid their starting wages higher.
 

Joe Pioletti
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