Pay Rates: Changing Trend, What to Expect · The Gypsy Nurse

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By Medical Edge Recruitment

February 15, 2023



Pay Rates: A Changing Trend

Medical Edge Recruitment provided this article.

Written by: Taylor Dupont, Recruitment Consultant, Medical Edge Recruitment

It’s official. We have entered the post-pandemic phase where we, as an industry, are no longer seeing “COVID pay” or “crisis rates”, which were often considerably above average pay rates being offered to nurses. For many professionals in the medical industry, this has likely led to a lifestyle change as take-home pay has decreased for the majority of individuals. This transition has not only been a harsh reality for nursing staff and medical personnel, but it has also initiated tough conversations for recruiters who now have to explain why they are offering rates that seem low compared to the amounts being offered and earned just one to two years ago.

The unfortunate truth is that requests for local and travel contract pay rates that match or exceed pandemic earnings are hard to come by the further out we are from the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is that you can still find opportunities through recruiting agencies offering more money versus staff jobs, but you will see below how the pay rates have changed overall.

States with the highest registered nurse employment numbers

California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania are the five states with the highest registered nurse (RN) employment numbers as of May 2021 (Bureau of Labor Statistics section 4). In 2019, the average annual salary for registered nurses were as follows for the states mentioned previously, respectively: $113,240, $74,540, $87,840, $67,610, and $71,410 (Nurse License Map, section 4). As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic started in early 2020. This led to an increase in rates across the nursing profession. Flash forward to 2021 – pay rates increased due to the simple economic concept known as “supply and demand”. The pandemic caused a high demand for medical staff, highlighting the shortage of staff (or “supply”) amongst the medical industry. As of May 2021, the average annual salaries for RNs in California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania are as follows respectively: $124,000, $79,120, $93,320, $72,000, and $76,000 (Bureau of Labor Statistics section 4). Now that we have entered the year 2023, we have an idea of what the projected annual salaries for RNs might be in California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania: $109,900, $76,470, $88,570, $68,300, and $74,260.

This table provides a comparison-style view of the above-mentioned states and associated pay rates for all RNs, both agency and staff, employed during 2019, 2021, and 2023:

  State  Average Annual RN Salary in 2019  Average Annual RN Salary in 2021  Average Annual RN Salary Projected for 2023
New York$87,840$93,320$88,570

Table 1: The data gathered for this table provides a comparison of average annual wages for registered nurses from 2019-2023.

When comparing the changes in pay from 2019 to 2021, there was an increase in the average annual salary of RNs, and then there is a decrease in the numbers from 2021 to 2023. As you may have assumed, LPN and CNA rates have followed very similar trends over the same time frame (Nightingale College section 6,  Nursing License Map, section 2, and CNA Free Training Resources, section 2).

RNs, LPNs, and CNAs are often given offers in terms of hourly wages. The conversions for the average annual salaries into hourly rates are below:

  State  Average RN Hourly Rate in 2019  Average RN Hourly Rate in 2021  Average Projected RN Hourly Rate in 2023
New York$42.23$44.86$42.58

Table 2: These calculations are based on the annual salaries from Table 1 for a full-time position totaling 2080 hours worked in one calendar year.

pay rates

Graph 1: Provides a visual of the average annual RN salary for the 5 US states that had the highest number of RNs employed in May 2021.

Do nurses and other healthcare staff deserve this higher pay rate as the norm? ABSOLUTELY! The unfortunate side of this is that it is physically impossible for your recruiter to offer these rates to you because of the amount of money that they are receiving from facilities, which in turn is used to pay your hourly rate and, if applicable, your stipends, has also decreased. It’s the trickle-down effect – as the urgency for nurses decreases (aka the “demand”), the rates that facilities are willing to pay staffing agencies decreases, leaving less money to pass on to you.

While we might not be happy about decreasing rates, the bright side is that we made it through the pandemic! It was a rough few years, and although it was a challenging time, COVID-19 highlighted the demand and need for nurses and healthcare staff. It led to a greater appreciation for everyone in the medical field and set a new precedent for the perception and value that society has on the importance of practicing medicine.

Looking For an Agency to Help Navigate the Changing Pay Rates?

Medical Edge Recruitment is the premier travel nursing recruitment agency specializing in providing top talent to clients in the healthcare industry. We connect clinical and allied providers to their ideal opportunities, focusing on building long-lasting relationships through honesty and transparency. In travel nursing, bigger does not always mean better. While we have an extensive network of job opportunities, our experienced team is dedicated to making a personalized provider experience a priority. There are a lot of moving parts in getting set up for a new assignment, but we take care of all the details along the way. Adventure awaits; let Medical Edge Recruitment show you where to go next!

Our job board is a great place to search for your next travel nurse assignment. We have you covered with our housing page if housing is an issue. You can search for what you are looking for.

If you are a new travel nurse or looking into becoming a travel nurse:

Travel Nurse Guide: Step-by-Step (now offered in a PDF Downloadable version!)


“2023 RN to BSN Salary – Learn How Much RN to BSN Graduates Earn?” RN to BSN Salary in 2023 – Learn How Much RN to BSN Graduates Earn?,

Admin. “CNA Salary: How Much Does a CNA Make in 2023?” CNA Free Training,

Logan, Kylie. “Nursing Salaries Surge 4% to Combat Burnout and Worker Shortages.” Fortune, Fortune, 19 Nov. 2021,

LPN/LVN Salary by State [ Updated 2022] – Nightingale College.

“Registered Nurse Salary 2023: How Much Does an RN Make?” Registered Nurse Salary || Latest 2023 Data,

“Registered Nurses.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 31 Mar. 2022,

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