The nations registered nurse workforce dropped as nurses wages stagnated and U.S. unemployment fell in 2004 and 2005, but hiring rebounded last year.
Employers hired an estimated 75,690 full-time RNs in 2006 to bring the nations full-time RN workforce to nearly 2.24 million, said researcher Peter Buerhaus, director of Vanderbilt Universitys Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies, citing U.S. Census data. Thats after nearly 27,800 nurses left the workforce in 2004 and 2005, according to a study of Census data that Buerhaus co-authored in the March/April edition of the journal Nursing Economics.
Nurses wages, adjusted for inflation, held steady in 2006 after a 0.3% drop in 2005 and a 0.4% drop in 2004. Foreign-born nurses accounted for more than half the 2006 employment gains, or about 39,000 RNs, Buerhaus said.
-- by Melanie Evans