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Between 2000 and 2004, the number of RNs in the United States increased by almost 8% to a new high of 2.9 million, according to new data released by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). More than 83% of RNs with active licenses were employed in nursing in 2004-the highest percentage since 1980.

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Real earnings for RNs grew significantly for the first time in more than a decade, with average annual earnings in 2004 at $57,785. In comparable dollars over time, RN salaries have increased almost 14% since 2000, the first significant increase in real earnings since 1992.


The average age of RNs was nearly 47 years in 2004, the highest average age since the first comparable data were published in 1980. About 41% of RNs were age 50 or older in 2004.


The Registered Nurse Population: Findings from the March 2004 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses is available at