News & Events

Nursing by the numbers

From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
November/December 2006 Edition

By Joe Twarog
Associate Director, Labor Education & Training

  • Number of registered nurses in the United States: 2.7 million
  • Active registered nurse licensees (2005) in Massachusetts: 103,222
  • Active advanced practice nurses licensees (2005) in Massachusetts: 7,753
  • MNA members living in:
    Florida, Mass. 1
    Peru, Mass. 6
    Wales, Mass. 1
    Holland, Mass. 6
    Berlin, Mass. 8
  • Percentage of U.S. registered nurses who are women: 92.5% in 2005
  • Percentage of RN population that is:
    Caucasian 90.0%
    African/American 4.2%
    Asian/Pacific Islanders 3.4%
    Hispanic 1.6%
    American Indian/Alaskan Native .5%
  • Between 1996 and 2000, the number of minority RNs increased at a faster rate (about 35%) than the number of non-minority RNs (2%)
  • RNs under the age of 40 in 1980: 52.9%
  • RNs under the age of 40 in 2000: 31.7%
  • Average age of the RN population in the U.S.: 45.2 years
  • Average annual earnings of registered nurses employed in nursing: $57,784 in 2004
  • UMass Memorial Medical Center CEO John O’Brien per hour rate: $610.58
  • Percent of nurses whose primary practice setting is a hospital: 59%
  • Number of RNs per 100,000 residents in Massachusetts: 1,181
    (The highest rate for any state: the District of Columbia has a rate of 1,498.)
  • Number of RNs per 100,000 residents U. S. population: 793
  • Wage differential of unionized hospital RNs vs. non-unionized hospital RNs: 13%
  • Union nurse wage differential for the 67 largest metropolitan areas in the
  • United States: 28%
  • Percentage of RNs represented by a union in 2003: 19.5%
  • Percentage of employed RNs who have considered leaving patient care within the last two years for reasons other than retirement: 50%
  • Estimated percentage of all acute care hospital nurses who left their positions in 2000: 21%
  • A shortage of RN staff has been found to impact patient length of stay by up to 12% and in surgical environments risk of failure by up to 14%
  • The need for RNs is predicted to continue to grow rapidly, rising by 27.3% between 2002 and 2012, compared to 14.8% during the same period for all occupations. More than 1.million openings for RNs are projected by 2012 due to growth and replacements.
  • Gallup poll respondents who rated a profession’s honesty and ethical standards as “very high/high” gave these ratings:
    Nurses 79%
    State officeholders 24%
  • The 2004 Gallup annual survey on the honesty and ethical standards of various professions (including nurses, doctors, pharmacists, dentists, veterinarians, teachers, military officers, clergy, bankers, judges, lawyers, auto mechanics, business executives, Congress members, etc), the public voted nurses No. 1.
  • Percentage of nurses who leave the profession because of back injuries: 12%
  • Annual cost for back injuries among health care workers: $1.7 billion (estimate)
  • For each additional hour of nursing care provided, injury rates for nurses and nurses’ aides fell by nearly 16%
  • For every unit increase in staffing, worker injury rates decrease by 2 injuries per 100 full time workers.
  • Massachusetts state representatives who voted for the Safe Staffing bill: 133
  • Massachusetts state representatives who voted against the Safe Staffing bill: 20
  • Massachusetts hospitals, Massachusetts Hospital Association and Massachusetts Organization of Nurse Executives registered lobbyists combined (2004): 99
  • MNA registered lobbyists (2004): 2
  • Number of years the MNA has fought for safe staffing legislation: 10
  • Massachusetts spending on lobbyists (2001): $53 million
  • Number of lobbyists per Massachusetts legislator: 3 to 1 (640 to 200)
  • Number of bills filed annually in the State Legislature: 8,000 (approx.)
  • California hospitals that have closed due to California’s RN staffing legislation: 0

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics/Department of Labor, Massachusetts Board of Registration for Nursing, US Census Bureau, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses,, Health Resources and Services Administration’s National Survey, Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2004-2005, US Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2004-2005, US Census Bureau, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Peter Hart & Associates, U.S. Department of Labor, The Gallup Poll, NurseWeek “Watch your back” by Connie Goldsmith, Recruitment and Retention Monthly, Keith D Jones: The Impending Crisis in Healthcare. The Internet Journal of Healthcare Administration, Federal Division of Nursing, American Journal of Public Health, MNA Membership Department