Journal: Slower economy keeps nurses in workforce

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The dark cloud of economic recession appears to have a silver lining for the healthcare field, according to a news report. More nurses are going back to work, taking on extra shifts, or delaying retirement as a result of higher gas prices, food costs and overall economic instability.

During healthy economic times, the numbers of full-time nurses grows at an average annual rate of 2.4%, according to The Wall Street Journal. But as the economy has turned sluggish, that annual rate has risen to 3.5%, with 113,000 nurses joining the workforce last year alone. As a result, many hospitals are able to fill the gaps in their nursing needs by simply giving their nurses the extra hours they want.

Unfortunately, this healthcare boon may not last. Once the economy stabilizes, many of the nurses will no longer need those extra hours and will be more inclined to stay home, the Journal reports. Experts are still predicting a shortage of up to 500,000 nurses - which accounts for 40% of nursing positions - within the next 15 to 20 years.