Special Report

The 25 Worst Cities for Nurses

Nursing is  one of the most demanding professions in America. Nurses are often required to work long shifts (spending much of the time on their feet), provide round-the-clock care, and interact with patients, some of them difficult. This profession became much more challenging in 2020, when nurses had to put themselves at risk to care for COVID-19 patients.

While nursing may be a difficult job anywhere, it may be more challenging in some major metro areas. In these metro areas, nurses are likely to make little money and face taxing working environments as budget constraints may limit the staff and resources at the hospital or office where they work.

To determine the worst cities for nurses, 24/7 Wall St. developed an index consisting of several measures related to nurse wage and employment.

Of the 25 worst cities for nurses, 16 are in the South. The Midwest has seven of the worst cities, while the West has two. None of the cities on this list are in the Northeastern part of the U.S.

One key factor in all the worst cities for nurses is compensation. Nationwide, the median annual wages for nurses was $75,330 in 2020. In all 25 cities on this list, most nurses earned less than $70,000 — in some cases, much less. Even when accounting for the relatively low cost of living in the South and Midwest, the nurses in those parts of the country still had relatively low incomes.

Of the 25 worst cities for nurses, 16 are located in the South, with Florida and Tennessee having four apiece, more than any other state. Seven of the worst cities are in the Midwest, and two located in the West. Even though the southern and midwestern metro areas on this list have relatively low costs of living, the nurses there still have relatively little purchasing power compared to the typical American nurse, as their wages are well below the typical earnings of just over $75,000 for a U.S. registered nurse.

There were nearly 3 million nurses working in 2020 in the U.S., and that number is projected to increase quickly in the coming years. Due to the aging population, there will be more and more older people who may need medical care. In addition to registered nurses, the numbers of nurse practitioners, physician assistants, personal care aides, and other similar jobs are projected to increase significantly in the coming years. These are America’s fastest growing jobs.

Click here to see the 25 worst cities for nurses.
Click here to see our detailed methodology.