Forecasts of the Registered Nurse Workforce in California

May 2020

This report presents supply and demand forecasts for the Registered Nurse (RN) workforce in California from 2019 through 2035. These new forecasts are based on data from the 2018 California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) Survey of Registered Nurses, the 2017-2018 BRN Annual Schools Report, data extracted from the BRN license records, and other state and national data sources. In addition, comparisons are made to other published projections. The 2019 forecasts indicate that supply of RNs will likely be slightly higher than projected demand (see Executive Summary Exhibit); however, a surplus or shortage could emerge in the future depending on a number of factors, as described in this report.  

The forecasts of RN supply take into account the aging of the RN workforce, new graduates (including those from out-of-state and international nursing programs), interstate flows of RNs, and changes in license status. These new forecasts of supply incorporate new data for these factors.  

The demand forecasts are based on national numbers of RNs per 100,000 population. An alternate forecast of demand estimates future hospital utilization in California based on projected increases in the need for hospital services due to population aging. The forecasts are compared with other published forecasts including those from the U.S. Bureau of Health Workforce and California Employment Development Department. Together, the demand estimates provide a range of possible scenarios for the future.