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Contact: Robert Bernstein
Public Information Office
The nursing profession remains overwhelmingly female, but the representation of men has increased as the demand for nurses has grown over the last several decades, according to a U.S. Census Bureau study released today.
The new study shows the proportion of male registered nurses has more than tripled since 1970, from 2.7 percent to 9.6 percent, and the proportion of male licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses has more than doubled from 3.9 percent to 8.1 percent.1
The study, Men in Nursing Occupations, presents data from the 2011 American Community Survey to analyze the percentage of men in each of the detailed nursing occupations: registered nurse, nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner, and licensed practical and licensed vocational nurse. The study, and accompanying detailed tables, also provide estimates on a wide range of characteristics of men and women in nursing occupations. These include employment status, age, race, Hispanic origin, citizenship, educational attainment, work hours, time of departure to work, median earnings, industry and class of worker.
"The aging of our population has fueled an increasing demand for long-term care and end-of-life services," said the report's author, Liana Christin Landivar, a sociologist in the Census Bureau's Industry and Occupation Statistics Branch. "A predicted shortage has led to recruiting and retraining efforts to increase the pool of nurses. These efforts have included recruiting men into nursing."
Men typically outearn women in nursing fields but not by as much as they do across all occupations. For example, women working as nurses full time, year-round earned 91 cents for every dollar male nurses earned; in contrast, women earned 77 cents to the dollar men earned across all occupations.
Because the demand for skilled nursing care is so high, nurses have very low unemployment rates. Unemployment was lowest among nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists (about 0.8 percent for both). For registered nurses and licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, these rates were a bit higher, but still very low, at 1.8 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively.
The American Community Survey provides a wide range of important statistics about people and housing for every community across the nation. The results are used by everyone from town and city planners to retailers and homebuilders. The survey is the only source of local estimates for most of the 40 topics it covers, such as education, occupation, language, ancestry and housing costs for even the smallest communities. Ever since Thomas Jefferson directed the first census in 1790, the census has collected detailed characteristics about our nation's people. Questions about jobs and the economy were added 20 years later under James Madison, who said such information would allow Congress to "adapt the public measures to the particular circumstances of the community," and over the decades allow America "an opportunity of marking the progress of the society."
1The difference between the 2011 estimate and the 2000 and 2006 estimates for percentage of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses who are men is not statistically significant.