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Inflation, recession, and increasing interest rates are all things you are probably hearing right now. For anyone, that’s worrisome. It could mean financial strain for many families. Being a nurse, could you be impacted by recessionary concerns? Nursing is a recession-proof career for the most part.

Take a Look Back in Time

To determine if nursing is recession-proof, it is best to look back to the last large recession to find out how it impacted those working as nurses. That means looking at what happened during the Great Recession, which began in December 2007 and continued through June 2009. During the Great Recession, many people lost jobs. By October 2009, about 10% of the American workforce was unemployed. The effects of the recession impacted many industries across the country, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

During this period, when others lost jobs and saw wages stagnant, nurses did not see the same fate. Rather, during this time, nurse numbers grew, and wages increased as well.

Consider more specific numbers from the Great Recession:

  • A 5.4% decrease in overall jobs occurred, leading to more than 7.2 million people losing their positions.
  • 56.1 percent of all national job growth occurred in healthcare
  • From the period of 2007 through 2010, more than 852,000 new jobs in the health care industry were added.
  • Also notable is wage growth. Across the board, wages grew at 4.7%. The health care industry saw wages grow by 7.8%.

What about nursing specifically, though?

Registered nurses saw an increase in jobs during the Great Recession. In fact, RN growth during that period was 7.6%, according to BLS data. More so, wages grew during that time for RNs by a rate of 8.4%.

When you look at these figures, from the BLS, it is clear that the nursing industry and health care overall is a solid, recession proof industry to work in.

It Is Not the Same Across the Board

At the same time, it is important to note that the rate of growth and demand in the industry is not equal across all positions. Although there may have been some slowdowns in certain areas of nursing, most areas saw a substantial increase. We saw the biggest increases in jobs during this period of time in the following areas:

  • Home health care: Saw an 18.3% increase in jobs during the Great Recession, with wages growing by 7.9%.
  • Doctor’s offices: Private physician offers added nearly 1 million jobs or 5.2% during that time, with an 8% increase in wages.
  • Skilled nursing facilities: These sectors, including areas like nursing homes and assisted living communities, saw jobs grow by 3.7%, with wages growing about 5.7% during that time.
  • General medical and surgical hospitals: Demand in this area leads to a 3.3% increase in jobs, with wages growing nearly 10%.

What does all of this data mean to you? In short, it shows that the health care industry saw a substantial increase in the number of people working within it during the largest recession in a long time. If that holds true for any forthcoming recession, it is proof that the nursing career is recession proof anyone that is working in this field now or thinking about going into it.

What Should You Do to Remain Competitive?

However, there could be some areas of nursing that see less demand. For example, there’s evidence from the same data that travel nursing positions decreased during that period of time. However, it may be important to note that travel nursing has changed significantly in the last few years.

To remain competitive, consider the following:

  • Work to increase your skills when possible. Check out new California educational programs that could support new areas of interest.
  • Work in hospitals, medical centers, and nursing homes, where the demand for nurses continues to be high.
  • Secure your position with a company you feel at home with. Although travel nursing can be lucrative, there proves to be less need for them when stability is most important.

Creating a strong nursing career in California means consistently working to maintain your skills and, in some cases, expanding those skills into new areas. If you are a nurse worried about a recession, the good news is you do not have to be. In the current environment, it is unlikely that nursing positions will dry up during the coming years, especially with demand from the Baby Boomer generation and continued pandemic effects.

Originally posted on 22/7/2022

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