Nurses In Demand Statewide

Wednesday, February 14th 2007, 12:15 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Nursing is the highest-paying of the occupations with the most vacancies in the state, according to a survey by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.

Registered nurses had a median hourly salary of $21.63, well over double the wages paid by the other occupations in the top four for having the most vacancies.

The other three were cashiers ($6.40 an hour), waiters ($2.25 not including tips) and retail sales person ($9.75).

Those four jobs accounted for more than 14 percent of all job vacancies in the survey. In all, the top 25 jobs accounted for more than 43 percent of job vacancies.

"It was nothing really surprising, but it confirmed our suspicions about the number of vacancies in health care and gave us some data to work with other than anecdotal information," said Lynn Gray, the commission's chief economist.

There were more than 2,200 vacancies for registered nurses.

The Oklahoma Job Vacancy Survey included responses from more than 4,000 employers in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and across the state about their labor needs.

Besides specific jobs, industries with the greatest number of vacancies were leisure and hospitality (20.3 percent), education and health services (19.3 percent), professional and business services (17.7 percent) and trade, transportation and utilities (14.5 percent).

The survey found that small companies, those with fewer than 50 employees, accounted for about half of all vacancies. Unlike large companies that have dedicated recruiters or large human resources departments, these small firms might not have the expertise or time to quickly identify suitable candidates for openings.

Health-related jobs took three spots among the top 25 most wanted jobs, or more than 4,600 of the 57,600 job openings in the first half of last year.

A recent study by the Oklahoma Hospital Association found the state faces a shortage of more than 3,000 nurses, 500 lab technicians, 400 physical therapists, 300 surgical technologists and 200 occupational therapists by 2012.

An aging population requiring more health services, as well as the impending retirements of nurses and nursing instructors, are among the main reasons for the projected shortage, the hospital association found.