February 2022 Travel Nursing Wage Trends by State

After more than two years on the frontline combating COVID-19 and entering what was shaping up to be the third year battling the pandemic, cases finally began to wane in February. By about mid-month, a 71% drop in cases had been recorded over the previous three weeks putting the daily case average nationwide at the lowest point since Christmas.

As February faded and the nation entered March, virus activity continued to fall with case reports reaching the lowest levels since the summer of 2021. Covid-related hospitalizations had also fallen by more than two-thirds from the January peak and nearly every state continued to see significant drops in daily cases. However, with COVID cases dropping, it provided an opportunity to seek treatments that some had put off due to the pandemic. Increases in non-COVID patients added to capacity issues, keeping hospitals hopping but healthcare pay rates were on the decline.

 

pexels-andrea-piacquadio-3769151Increased capacity issues didn't affect pay rates in the country

 

States With Wage Increases

As COVID-19 cases waned in February, so did healthcare wages. Only six states showed an increase in wages in February compared to 43 states with healthcare pay hikes in January. Wages had started trending up in December when the fast-spreading Omicron quickly became the dominant variant. True to form, wages rose with cases and as cases began to fall, wages followed suit. 

Of the states with an increase in healthcare pay in February, Wisconsin had the largest jump at 6.1%. Wisconsin’s average wages in January were relatively unchanged with only a small increase of 0.6% recorded. However, the state recorded an increase of 6.75% in healthcare wages in December 2021, ranking it first in the nation during that month, as well. Wisconsin’s increased healthcare pay rate in December could be partially explained by a major spike in COVID cases that month, but the state had declining cases in February yet wages rose anyway. It’s possible this was a late response to January’s case load. Wisconsin ended February with a daily average of 742 cases and 1,516 new cases reported on February 28 while it ended January with a daily average of 6,602 and 13,096 new cases recorded on the 31st.

 

State

Avg Weekly Pay January

Avg Weekly Pay February

% Increase

Wisconsin

$3,015

$3,211

6.1%

South Dakota

$3,224

$3,323

3.0%

Mississippi

$2,579

$2,659

3.0%

Montana

$2,743

$2,819

2.7%

Nebraska

$3,222

$3,276

1.7%

Hawaii

$2,516

$2,560

1.7%

 

States With Wage Decreases

Healthcare pay rates decreased in 32 states in February, much more than in January and decreases were much more significant. Only three states recorded a drop in wages in January with the biggest drop a mere 3.7%. In February, Delaware had the largest decrease in healthcare wages at 10.5% after posting an increase of 11.1% in January, the largest among all states that month. Because the current drop is close in value to last month’s increase, it could be viewed as putting wages back on an even keel. Georgia had the second-highest drop in wages at 6.2% after posting an increase of 5.2% in January and Kansas had the third-highest drop at 6% with only a 3.3% increase reported the previous month.

 

State

Avg Weekly Pay January

Avg Weekly Pay February

% Increase

Delaware

$2,934

$2,655

-10.5%

Georgia

$3,154

$2,971

-6.2%

Kansas

$2,869

$2,708

-6.0%

Arizona

$3,049

$2,891

-5.4%

New Jersey

$3,712

$3,531

-5.1%

Colorado

$3,075

$2,926

-5.1%

Rhode Island

$3,222

$3,069

-5.0%

Texas

$2,891

$2,753

-5.0%

Pennsylvania

$3,502

$3,363

-4.1%

Michigan

$3,201

$3,075

-4.1%

Illinois

$3,339

$3,215

-3.9%

Indiana

$3,334

$3,218

-3.6%

Connecticut

$3,214

$3,103

-3.6%

New Hampshire

$3,255

$3,147

-3.4%

Wyoming

$3,106

$3,013

-3.1%

Maine

$3,482

$3,383

-2.9%

Missouri

$2,945

$2,862

-2.9%

Maryland

$3,378

$3,291

-2.6%

South Carolina

$2,973

$2,896

-2.6%

New Mexico

$3,363

$3,280

-2.5%

Virginia

$2,957

$2,893

-2.2%

California

$3,203

$3,140

-2.0%

North Dakota

$3,662

$3,596

-1.8%

Vermont

$3,275

$3,219

-1.8%

Massachusetts

$3,162

$3,109

-1.7%

Washington

$3,446

$3,392

-1.6%

Minnesota

$3,320

$3,267

-1.6%

Kentucky

$3,196

$3,145

-1.6%

Idaho

$3,085

$3,040

-1.5%

Utah

$2,695

$2,656

-1.5%

Ohio

$3,012

$2,971

-1.4%

Alaska

$3,196

$3,156

-1.3%

 

States That Stayed the Same

The remaining 12 states recorded changes of less than 1% either up or down, so their wages were considered unchanged overall. Nevada’s increase in average weekly healthcare pay amounted to only $2, resulting in a 0% change due to the minuscule amount. Though small, five states recorded increases between 0.3% and 0.7% and six states had decreases between 0.1% and 0.9%.

 

State

Avg Weekly Pay January

Avg Weekly Pay February

% Increase

Oregon

$3,130

$3,152

0.7%

Tennessee

$2,745

$2,762

0.6%

Louisiana

$2,675

$2,691

0.6%

Iowa

$3,362

$3,378

0.5%

New York

$3,343

$3,354

0.3%

Nevada

$3,374

$3,376

0%

West Virginia

$3,031

$3,028

-0.1%

Florida

$2,614

$2,598

-0.6%

Oklahoma

$2,815

$2,790

-0.9%

North Carolina

$3,057

$3,031

-0.9%

Alabama

$2,856

$2,830

-0.9%

Arkansas

$3,147

$3,118

-0.9%

 

Wage Forecasts for 2022

Although employment in healthcare rose by 64,000 in February 2022, wages in most states were on a downward spiral. Declining wages could be the trend for future months if COVID-19 cases continue to drop or they could simply level out after the rollercoaster ride they’ve been on for the past couple of years. However, ongoing labor issues in the coming year could keep wages on a never-ending surge and wane.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the healthcare sector lost nearly half a million workers between February 2020 and February 2022. In a recent Vivian Health survey of nurses among all major nursing disciplines across the country, 43% of those polled said they were considering leaving the healthcare profession in 2021. The large number of nursing professionals who left the industry likely confirms the accuracy of the data collected.

Should the healthcare industry continue to hemorrhage workers, wages could rebound to entice new clinicians and retain those that have chosen to remain in the profession. However, as previously witnessed, the single largest impact on healthcare wage trends of late is the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic. The constant ups and downs in healthcare wages could exacerbate staffing issues and ongoing staff shortages will likely have some impact on wage trends throughout the year, creating a vicious cycle that compounds existing hiring challenges.

Schedule a demo with Vivian Health and let us help you meet your hiring goals.

Moira K. McGhee

Moira K. McGhee

Moira K. McGhee has been a professional writer since 1999. She’s written 1,000s of print or digital feature articles, blogs, advertorials, how-to guides, and landing pages throughout her career. Her work has been featured in several nationally distributed magazines, on numerous websites, and in two super-fun cozy crime anthologies. Moira especially enjoys writing about nurses and the amazing jobs they do!

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