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Nurses have to wear a lot of hats. They explain drugs and treatments to patients, they administer drugs to some of those same patients, they reassure, they calculate, they document, they observe. But where do they do all those things the most? Which states have the most demand for nurses?

nursing demand by state

According to our research using nursing related job listings, demand for nurses is highest in New Mexico, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and North Dakota. Conversely, nursing demand is lowest in Utah, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. But why? What factors go into high or low nursing demand?

In many cases, funding for nurses in places like schools or hospitals comes from local and state budgets. A state like Utah, which generally advocates small government and runs its districts based on conservative principles, may not allocate sufficient funding for public nursing positions. As such, demand wouldn’t be high because the state wouldn’t have budgeted for it.

But what about high demand? Well, in Massachusetts, for example, nurses can earn almost $20,000 more than the national average nurse’s salary. It stands to reason, then, that a state in which prospective nurses would like to work—in order to earn more money—would also boast high nursing demand. Such a correlation tracks the other way too: In Alabama, which has very low nursing demand, nurses make below the national average salary.

High demand also likely correlates with the state of health care in a particular region. Take New Mexico. Due to changes in the Affordable Care Act, such as the structure and expansion of Medicaid, plus an aging population, New Mexico will be allocating more and more of its budget to health care in the coming years. As such, they will likely need to employ more and more health care professionals—such as nurses.

On the other hand, low nursing demand correlates, naturally, with states that have very few health-care facilities per capita. Mississippi, for example, has the fifth-fewest health-care facilities per capita in the United States—and the lowest demand for nurses of any state in the U.S.