June 20, 2022

Nursing is a Recession-Proof Job, Here's Why

Nursing is a Recession-Proof Job, Here's Why

Have you ever wondered if being a nurse is advantageous if our economy is in a recession? With all the talks about recession lately, you must be at least a little curious about how it might affect you if you are a nurse or even thinking of becoming a nurse.

Surprisingly, nursing does appear to be a “recession-proof profession,” according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics! I am sure you’re wondering how they came up with that conclusion, so let me fill you in.

The Great Recession of 2007-2010

We can look at past recessions and conclude how nursing and the healthcare industry might fare through a recession going forward. The last and most memorable recession was the “Great Recession” which lasted from December 2007 until June 2010.

I have to ask that you humor me for a moment so I can blast you with all the statistics needed to prove my point! You might just find them quite interesting and mind-boggling.

Stats on Healthcare Careers During The Great Recession

  • 7,257,090 jobs were lost nationally, which was a 5.4% decrease 
  • Healthcare saw job growth of 56.1% overall
  • 852,000 new jobs in healthcare were added between 2007 and 2010 
  • Healthcare wages increased by 7.8%, compared to 4.7% for all other industries. 

Those are some impressive numbers, don’t you think?

Areas of High Growth in Healthcare During The Recession

Four of the largest areas of healthcare that saw growth, as found by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, include the following:

  1. General Medical-Surgical Hospitals – job growth increased by 3.3% or 140,000 jobs, with wages increasing by 9.9%
  2. Office of Physicians – job growth increased by 5.2% or 1 million jobs, with wages increasing by 8%.
  3. Skilled Nursing Facilities – job growth increased by 3.7% or 59,113 jobs, with wages increasing by 5.7%.
  4. Home Health – job growth increased by 18.3% or 167,707 jobs with wages increasing by 7.9%.

The Great Recession And Nursing Careers

If you are really paying attention, you might be thinking, “okay, so what about nursing in itself?” Well, here’s the scoop on how registered nurses fared through the Great Recession!

RN employment increased by 7.6% or 186,680 jobs, and wages increased by 8.4%, according to a very detailed analysis completed by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 

  • This data was compiled by looking at five main areas of nursing. Those areas included,
    • medical-surgical hospitals, 
    • physicians’ offices, 
    • home health care, 
    • skilled nursing facilities, 
    • employment services (agency nursing as most know it)

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Nursing Specialty Career/Wage Growth During the Great Recession

  • General Medical-Surgical Hospitals - job growth increased by 8% or 112,180 jobs, with wages increasing by 7.5%. 
  • Office of Physicians – job growth increased by 10.5% or 22,130 jobs, with wages increasing by 14.3%.
  • Home Health Care – job growth increased by 15.1% or 19,159 jobs, with wages increasing by 8%.
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities – job growth increased by 8.9% or 11,000 jobs, with wages increasing by 6.3%.
  • Employment Services – job growth decreased by 27.1% or 26,150 jobs with wages increasing by 3.2%.

Travel and Agency Nursing Declined During the Great Recession

I wanted to point out that travel nursing (aka “agency” nursing) was the only area with a decrease in employment during the recession period. I thought this was very interesting, especially since many staff nurses left full-time positions during the pandemic to work for agencies due to the attractive increase in pay. 

The good news is there is a difference between the Great Recession and the current times. Some hospitals are starting to hire nurses via internal travel nurse programs, allowing them to become more competitive with outside nursing agencies. Essentially, they are cutting out the middleman to draw in more nurses, thereby ensuring they can offer competitive pay and still reduce hospital expenses within.

Even if there is a large decline in agency nursing with the next recession, there is a new emerging market for agency nurses to fall back on.

College Enrollment Increases During Recessions

Now that you know nursing does seem to be a recession-proof career and we have a possible recession looming in the future, let me add one more tidbit of information to get you thinking! 

  • College enrolment increases during recessions: in fact, it has “increased in every recession since the 1960s,” according to Stanford University? Who would have thought? 
  • Maybe the decision to further education during a recession is due to the desire to be more marketable to secure their position, maybe they already have student loans they need to defer due to job layoffs due to the recession, or maybe they want to ensure they will have a “recession-proof career” when the next recession rears its ugly head. Whatever the case may be, college enrollment increases during a recession.

So, if you’re thinking about pursuing a degree in healthcare, becoming a nurse, or maybe you’re already a nurse and would like to advance your degree, now just might be the time to take that step and enroll in college, especially with current talks of a likely recession happening in 2023, according to Forbes. If you start now, you could be well on your way to weathering the next recession comfortably rather than becoming unemployed. 

In closing, I will leave you with this thought to ponder, “Should a recession occur in the near future, what better profession to be in than healthcare, especially nursing?” It’s the profession that keeps on giving, not only to patients but also to employees!

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