There were nearly 3 million registered nurses working in the U.S. in 2020, accounting for 2.1% of all American workers. In addition to the usual demands of their job, many nurses had to care for COVID-19 patients and take extra precautions to prevent catching and transmitting the virus while performing their duties.
While this added difficulty undoubtedly made the job more challenging, registered nurses in some parts of the country were better equipped to handle the challenges. This is because, in some metro areas, nurses received relatively high wages and were able to avoid the staffing and equipment shortages that impacted many hospitals and doctors offices in other metro areas.
To determine the best cities for nurses, 24/7 Wall St. developed an index consisting of several measures related to nurse wage and employment.
The 25 best metro areas for nurses are located in just four states — California, Oregon, Minnesota, and Hawaii. California dominates the list, with 19 entries. Oregon metro areas feature three times, Minnesota has two metros on the list, and Hawaii has one.
The metro areas on this list rank as the best for nurses in large part because of their relatively high compensation. In 17 of the 25 metro areas on this list most registered nurses earn over $100,000 per year. The median annual income for RNs nationwide is $75,330.These are the highest paying jobs in America.
The number of Americans working in the health care sector grew from 12 million in 2015 to 15 million in 2020, a 25% increase. Yet in every metro area that ranks as the best for nurses, the number of health care workers increased by more than 30% — in some cases more than doubling.