With the COVID-19 Delta variant spreading across the US, nurses are in higher demand than ever. A combination of skyrocketing hospitalizations and worker turnover due to burnout has made nurses some of the most in-demand workers in the country.

The Delta variant, though not necessarily deadlier the original coronavirus for those who are vaccinated, spreads more easily — in fact, it’s 50% more contagious than the original Alpha variant. This new threat has led to increased hospitalizations across the country, and therefore more demand for nurses. 

We took a closer look at nurse staffing, specifically for travel nurses — registered nurses who work short-term jobs at hospitals and clinics. According to our data, via the largest travel nurse staffing agency, Aya Healthcare, the number of openings for registered travel nurses across the US has increased by 61% in the past month. 

In that same time, the median weekly salary has increased by 21% to $2,660 per week, which would amount to $138,320 per year. The average salary for a full-time nurse in the US is $75,330, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While travel nurses typically get paid higher than permanent staff, the recent increase means they’re paid nearly double the average salary for a nurse in 2020.

Nurse specializations Job listings
Salary (Avg per week)
Medical Surgical 3,458 $2,814
ER 3,063 $3,058
ICU 2,305 $3,265
MS/Tele 1,199 $3,362
Operating Room 1,179 $3,078
Telemetry 1,103 $3,016
PCU 1,082 $3,112
Labor and Delivery 983 $2,858
Behavioral Health 525 $2,132

The specializations in highest demand include medical-surgical, ER, and ICU nurses, likely to cope with rising numbers of Delta variant patients.

Texas in particular is facing an unprecedented nurse shortage. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, there are 23,000 more openings than there are nurses to fill them. Some Houston hospitals are even hiring first- and second-year nursing students in an effort to lighten the load for more experienced nurses. 

“Our workforce is fatigued,” W. Stephen Love, president and CEO of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, told The Texas Tribune. “These health care heroes have been at this for 18 and 19 months. Many of them are just leaving the workforce, saying ‘I can’t do it anymore.’”

Hospital Job listings Salary (Avg per week)
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest Fort Worth 13 $4,424
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Alliance 7 $4,424
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst - Euless - Bedford 7 $4,424
Texas Health Heart and Vascular 6 $4,424
Texas Health - Arlington Memorial Hospital 19 $4,422
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas 19 $4,415
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen 9 $4,368
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne 11 $4,338
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Stephenville 8 $4,338
Texas Health Frisco 6 $4,338

Our data shows that the hospitals willing to pay the most are part of the Texas Health hospital system, a nonprofit system with 27 hospitals and 23,000 employees. A travel nurse getting paid $4,424 per week would, in theory, make a whopping $230,048 per year. While it’s unclear if these roles will be filled anytime soon, the nurses that are brought to the front lines are making more money than ever.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.

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