Federal Study Shows RN Workforce Growing, but High Proportion Nearing Retirement

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The number of licensed registered nurses in the United States grew by 5.3 percent from 2004-2008 to a record 3.06 million, but almost half of RNs are over age 50, according to a release by the Health Resources and Services Administration.


The HRSA survey, published every four years, also found:

  • An estimated 444,668 RNs received their first license from 2004-2008.
  • RNs' average age rose from 46.8 in 2004 to 47.0 years in 2008, almost stabilizing after many years of significant age increases.
  • However, nearly 45 percent of RNs were 50 years of age or older in 2008, up from 33 percent in 2000.
  • RNs earned an average of $66,973 in 2008, representing almost a 15.9 percent rise since 2004, slightly faster than inflation.
  • Half of RNs have a baccalaureate or higher degree in 2008, up from 27.5 percent in 1980.
  • The number of RNs with master's or doctorate degrees increased by 46.9 percent from 2004.
  • The RN workforce is becoming more diverse, with nurses from ethnic minorities making up 16.8 percent of the total in 2008, up from 12.2 percent in 2004.

Read HRSA's release on the nursing workforce.

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