Nurses are part of the backbone of the American health care system. This became particularly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many nurses put themselves in harm’s way to help the sickest patients. Many got sick and some died. The demand for nurses rose, and some even relocated to cities where the needs were most pronounced.
The metropolitan areas we reviewed to find the best one for nurses were chosen in large part because of their relatively high compensation. In 17 of the 25 metro areas on the finalist list, most registered nurses earn over $100,000 per year. That compares to their median annual income nationwide of $75,330.
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 among the best for nurses, the number of health care workers increased by more than 30%. In some cases, the number more than doubled.
The best metro for nurses is Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, California. Here are some details:
- Median annual wage for registered nurses: $137,040
- Median annual wage for all occupations: $48,070
- Change in health care employment (2015-2020): +75.3% (65,230 to 114,320)
- Total registered nurses: 21,920
Our methodology: To determine the best and worst cities for nurses, 24/7 Wall St. developed an index consisting of several measures related to nurse wage and employment. Data on the annual median wage for registered nurses in a given metropolitan area came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program and was included in the index at full weight.
Data on the annual median wage for all registered nurses also was adjusted for cost of living using regional price parity in 2019 from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and was included in the index at full weight. Data on the location quotient of registered nurses (the ratio of registered nurses as a percentage of total employment in a given metropolitan statistical area relative to the national registered nurse workforce as a percentage of the total national workforce, a measure of relative concentration) came from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program and was included in the index at full weight.
Finally, the employment growth of all health care workers from 2015 to 2020 was calculated using data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program and was included in the index at full weight.
Click here to see all 25 best cities for nurses.
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