The Recession's Effect on Hospital Registered Nurse Employment Growth

Peter I. Buerhaus PhD, RN, FAAN; David I. Auerbach PhD, MS


Nurs Econ. 2011;29(4):163-167. 

In This Article

Data and Methods

As in our earlier analyses of RN employment trends (Buerhaus, Staiger, & Auerbach, 2004; Buerhaus, Auerbach, & Staiger, 2007; Buerhaus et al., 2009), we rely on data from the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is a household-based, nationally representative survey of over 100,000 individuals administered monthly by the Bureau of the Census, and is used widely by researchers and by the Department of Labor to estimate current trends in unemployment, employment, and earnings. In this analysis, we use data from the Outgoing Rotation Group Annual Merged Files.

The survey contains information on demographics, earnings, hours worked, industry sector, and employment of over 3,000 RNs employed in nursing each year. We have used CPS data to estimate employment trends for RNs, and to project the age and supply of RNs and physicians (Auerbach, Buerhaus, & Staiger, 2007; Staiger, Auerbach, & Buer haus, 2009).

The data we analyzed included all individuals between the ages of 21 and 64 who reported their occupation as a RN between January 2001 and December 2010 (N=37,313). Individuals outside of this age range, who together compose less than 4% of the RN workforce, were excluded for consistency with earlier analyses of RN employment trends and because their numbers in the workforce are too small to estimate accurate effects; thus, their omission should not bias the analysis. To be consistent with our earlier work, employment was measured as FTEs (the number of full-time employees plus half the number of part-time employees), where fulltime em ployment is defined as working 30 or more hours per week. RNs reporting fewer than 30 hours worked in a typical week were assigned 0.5 FTE. To make estimates representative of the U.S. non-institutionalized population, observations were weighted by sampling weights provided by the CPS.


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