Demand for Nurses Is Pushing Travel Pay Sky High

This fall’s surge in COVID cases is creating a nationwide “bidding war” for nurses so intense that pay is soaring as high as $8,000 and $10,000 a week.

According to a report by Kaiser Health News, “The fall surge in COVID cases has turned hospital staffing into a sort of national bidding war, with hospitals willing to pay exorbitant wages to secure the nurses they need.”

In South Dakota, hospitals are paying nurses $6,200 a week. A hospital in Fargo, North Dakota advertised more than $8,000 a week.

“Calling the labor market for registered nurses ‘cutthroat’ is an understatement,” said Adam Seth Litwin, an associate professor of industrial and labor relations at Cornell University. “Even if the health care sector can somehow find more beds, it cannot just go out and buy more front-line caregivers.”

Nurses have long been among the hardest jobs to fill. In 2018, a Moody’s Investor Service report said the shortage of nurses had become so critical it was threatening hospital finances. A few months earlier, Reuters reported that to fill nursing shortages hospitals were spending $4.8 billion annually on travel nurses, twice what they were spending three years before.

With COVID patients flooding hospitals nationwide, demand for nurses has now become so intense that pay is skyrocketing, prompting long-time staff nurses to join the ranks of travel nurses. These contract workers fill temporary positions before traveling to another temporary nursing job.

David Deane, senior vice president of a travel nurse job board, estimates there are at least 50,000 travel nurses today, a jump from the 31,000 in 2018. One large specialty staffing firm says it added 1,000 nurses to its “reservist” roster just over the Halloween weekend.

Many of these new travel nurses are coming from rural and small hospitals that can’t afford to match the pay offered elsewhere.

“That is a huge threat,” Angelina Salazar, CEO of the Western Healthcare Alliance told Kaiser Health News. The alliance is a consortium of 29 small hospitals in rural Colorado and Utah. “There’s no way rural hospitals can afford to pay that kind of salary,” she said.

That’s hastening a “brain drain” of nurses, said Tessa Johnson, president of the North Dakota Nurses Association, and not only to hospitals in metro areas, but internationally too.

“We’ve sent nurses to Aruba, the Bahamas and Curacao because they’ve needed help with COVID,” said Deane. “You’re going down there, you’re making $5,000 a week and all your expenses are paid, right? Who’s not gonna say yes?”

Photo by Jakayla Toney on Unsplash

Resume Tricks for 2022
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

Resume Tricks for 2022

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Kornelia Klukowska
Accounting + Finance General Interest Green Key News Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Kornelia Klukowska

When to Say Goodbye to a Candidate
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

When to Say Goodbye to a Candidate

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Allison Vogt
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Allison Vogt

Green Key Unlocked: The Growth of Professional Support
General Interest Green Key News Professional Support Worklife

Green Key Unlocked: The Growth of Professional Support

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Brittany Leader
General Interest Green Key News Healthcare Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Brittany Leader

Green Key Unlocked: FAQs of Working with a Recruiter
General Interest Green Key News Pharma Worklife

Green Key Unlocked: FAQs of Working with a Recruiter

Green Key Announces New Senior Partners
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

Green Key Announces New Senior Partners

Green Key Against Gun Violence
General Interest Green Key News

Green Key Against Gun Violence

How to Support Mental Health in the Workplace
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

How to Support Mental Health in the Workplace

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Larry Goodman
General Interest Green Key News Pharma Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Larry Goodman

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Mike Glock
Accounting + Finance Financial Services General Interest Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Mike Glock

How to Make Your Candidate an Attractive Offer
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

How to Make Your Candidate an Attractive Offer

Tips for Recent Grads
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

Tips for Recent Grads

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Patrick Friel
Accounting + Finance General Interest Green Key News Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Patrick Friel

Working Moms at GKR
General Interest Green Key News Healthcare Human Resources Pharma Professional Support Worklife

Working Moms at GKR

Green Key Resources Opens New Jersey Office
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

Green Key Resources Opens New Jersey Office

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Tim Durkin
Accounting + Finance General Interest Green Key News Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Tim Durkin

Green Key Unlocked: Onboarding & Training in Agency Recruiting
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

Green Key Unlocked: Onboarding & Training in Agency Recruiting

How to Beat Work from Home Fatigue
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

How to Beat Work from Home Fatigue

Latest Blog Posts
View All Posts
Resume Tricks for 2022

Resume Tricks for 2022

To keep you on top of the resume trends, we've put together a comprehensive list of tricks and tips to...
Read More
#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Kornelia Klukowska

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Kornelia Klukowska

Coming directly from the accounting industry, Kornelia started her recruiting career six months ago and is already succeeding tremendously in...
Read More
When to Say Goodbye to a Candidate

When to Say Goodbye to a Candidate

As a recruiter, you will come across many talented and attentive individuals. However, there will always be candidates who display...
Read More