May 2022 Travel Wage Trends by State

Healthcare wages, especially compensation among travel nurses, remain among the most talked-about topics in the medical field. During the COVID-19 pandemic and amid staffing shortages that worsened as the coronavirus spread, mutated, and spread again and again, travel nurses’ pay doubled, sometimes tripled. As the pandemic begins to wind down, for now at least, travel nurses and other traveling healthcare workers who’ve pitched in wherever facilities needed them nationwide are feeling the pinch of declining wages.

In early May, news outlets, including NBC News, began reporting that the tide was turning regarding skyrocketing healthcare travel pay rates. As states declared the Covid pandemic emergency over, state-level Covid relief funds disappeared, and hospitals lost funding for travel nurses even if they still needed them.

Some hospitals have canceled travel nursing contracts because Covid admissions had leveled out and/or they’d successfully hired additional full-time, permanent staff. Others continue to use travel nurses but have negotiated lower rates with the agencies supplying them. Some healthcare travel wages have dropped as much as 50% or more. Although travel rates primarily continue to fall in most states, healthcare wages for traveling nurses and other medical staff remain higher than before the pandemic.

 

 

States With Wage Increases

Only five states had high enough increases in healthcare travel wages to warrant inclusion on the list of wage increases in May. However, this was still an improvement over April healthcare wages, when only Minnesota reported a slight increase of 1.3%. It’s also a vast improvement over March wage trends when all 50 states reported a drop in pay. Two more states also saw slight increases in healthcare wages in May, but these increases were less than 1%, so they were considered unchanged. The current trend in healthcare wages rebounding to a certain degree could point to fluctuating Covid admissions in some states, as nationwide averages show several spikes in cases throughout the month of May.

 

  • Massachusetts had the highest increase in healthcare wages in May at 3.1%, though Oklahoma wasn’t far behind at 3%. Covid cases in Massachusetts may have played a partial role in rising wages, as the state began May with a daily case average of 2,696 but reached a high of 4,646 by May 17, following a spike of 11,762 new cases reported on May 16. However, the accuracy of Covid case numbers is questionable, with many people testing at home and not reporting positive results or having such mild symptoms that they don’t realize they’re infected. It’s quite possible that case numbers are much higher than reported, but facilities do report Covid-related hospitalizations.

 

State

Avg Weekly Pay April

Avg Weekly Pay May

% Increase

Massachusetts

$2,633

$2,717

3.1%

Oklahoma

$2,051

$2,113

3.0%

South Dakota

$2,708

$2,765

2.0%

Missouri

$1,936

$1,967

1.6%

Wisconsin

$2,225

$2,255

1.4%

 

States With Wage Decreases

Although 36 states recorded decreases in healthcare wages in May, these declines were smaller. Not only were there fewer states with decreases in May but also the percentage amounts of these decreases were less compared to previous months. Only four states reported double-digit wage drops, while April had 13 states in the double digits and March had 29.

 

  • Maryland had the most significant dip in healthcare travel wages at 12.4%, marking the third straight month the state has had a double-digit drop in wages. In April, healthcare wages in Maryland dropped by 16.1%, and in March, they dropped 18.8%. The state also posted decreased wages in February, but it was a much smaller 2.6% decline. Maryland had a 4.1% increase in January wages, as many states did when Omicron caused a swift surge in cases. 

 

The three other states with double-digit drops in healthcare wages were Delaware, Maine, and Texas. Unlike Maryland, these three states had single-digit drops in April, and only Maine had a double-digit decrease in March.

 

State

Avg Weekly Pay April

Avg Weekly Pay May

% Increase

Maryland

$2,584

$2,298

-12.4%

Delaware

$2,277

$2,048

-11.2%

Maine

$2,687

$2,428

-10.7%

Texas

$2,353

$2,127

-10.6%

New Hampshire

$2,389

$2,223

-7.4%

Connecticut

$2,400

$2,244

-6.9%

Nebraska

$2,628

$2,463

-6.7%

Alaska

$2,841

$2,664

-6.6%

Nevada

$2,858

$2,693

-6.1%

Mississippi

$2,382

$2,253

-5.7%

Indiana

$2,637

$2,496

-5.6%

North Dakota

$2,798

$2,660

-5.2%

New York

$2,753

$2,618

-5.1%

Rhode Island

$2,653

$2,525

-5.1%

Colorado

$2,545

$2,431

-4.7%

Minnesota

$2,795

$2,674

-4.5%

Iowa

$2,625

$2,518

-4.2%

Tennessee

$2,367

$2,285

-3.6%

Arkansas

$2,546

$2,458

-3.6%

Washington

$2,848

$2,753

-3.4%

Idaho

$2,380

$2,306

-3.2%

North Carolina

$2,448

$2,375

-3.1%

Arizona

$2,725

$2,646

-3.0%

Ohio

$2,759

$2,679

-3.0%

Kentucky

$2,627

$2,567

-2.3%

California

$2,978

$2,912

-2.2%

New Mexico

$2,488

$2,434

-2.2%

Utah

$2,400

$2,349

-2.2%

Virginia

$2,465

$2,418

-1.9%

Montana

$2,553

$2,505

-1.9%

Louisiana

$2,525

$2,478

-1.9%

West Virginia

$2,690

$2,647

-1.6%

Georgia

$2,260

$2,224

-1.6%

Wyoming

$2,630

$2,591

-1.5%

Hawaii

$2,584

$2,545

-1.5%

South Carolina

$2,298

$2,268

-1.4%

 

States That Stayed the Same

Nine states reported fluctuations in healthcare wages of less than 1%, making them relatively unchanged for the month of May. New Jersey literally had no change, beginning and ending the month with an average weekly healthcare pay rate of $2,642. Florida had the highest “unchanged” increase at 0.6%, while Oregon had the largest “unchanged” decrease at 0.9%.

 

State

Avg Weekly Pay April

Avg Weekly Pay May

% Increase

Florida

$2,290

$2,303

0.6%

Alabama

$2,077

$2,085

0.4%

New Jersey

$2,642

$2,642

0.0%

Vermont

$2,573

$2,567

-0.2%

Michigan

$2,462

$2,453

-0.3%

Kansas

$2,276

$2,266

-0.5%

Illinois

$2,617

$2,605

-0.5%

Pennsylvania

$2,571

$2,554

-0.7%

Oregon

$2,869

$2,842

-0.9%

 

Schedule a demo with Vivian Health to learn how we can help you with your travel, permanent, per-diem, or local contract staffing needs.

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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