After looking at the best cities to buy a home in based on your occupation, PropertyShark decided to switch things around and analyze cities from the perspective of one occupation. With roughly 1 in 53 Americans now employed as nurses, we decided to take a look at the evolution of home prices and nursing wages in the nation’s top medical centers in the decade since the recession.
Why nursing? Not only is it one of the most common professions in the country, but unlike many other job sectors, it’s one that remains thoroughly protected from the threat of automation. Additionally, it’s one of the fastest growing job sectors nationally, projected to grow at more than double the rate of the average industry. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics projections, a 15% expansion is expected in the nursing industry through 2026, adding close to 440,000 new jobs nationally. Many of those will be in major medical hubs like New York, Boston and Los Angeles.
Although not a universally held opinion, there is ample evidence to support the claim that nursing is a recession-proof occupation. A comprehensive BLS report on employment and wage growth in the nursing industry found that between 2007 and 2010 employment grew 7.6%, while the national average employment contracted 5.6%. Moreover, the nursing industry added hundreds of thousands of jobs during a period when other industries shed millions of jobs nationally. Wage growth was also steady at 8.4%, about the same rate as national wage growth.
Meanwhile, the recession saw home prices tumble, then quickly recover, almost immediately outpacing wage growth. In fact, looking at our target cities, 10 out 12 were already an on upswing in median home prices by 2012, in some cases at spectacular rates – Phoenix’s median jumped 53% in 2012 alone.
Phoenix median home price climbed 23%, while nursing wages grew 21%. However, Phoenix is moderately unaffordable for the people in this industry, with a nursing professional having to spend their full wage of 3.1 years to buy a home here.
Other key takeaways:
• San Francisco leads the pack of severely unaffordable markets for nursing professionals. Given that its median home price saw a colossal 86% growth over the last decade, a nurse would need more than 10 annual salaries to buy a home here.
• New York City and Los Angeles are also among the severely unaffordable markets, with nurses having to spend their full wage of 7 years to buy a home here.
• Only 5 of the 12 focus cities offer an affordable housing market for nurses– in these markets, it takes under 3 years’ wages to buy a home.
• Baltimore ranks as the #1 most affordable city for nurses out of the batch, with a nursing professional able to buy a home with 1.7 years’ worth of wages. Philadelphia follows closely behind, with the income of only 1.8 years needed to afford a home here.
• Chicago is the only large medical center where wage growth rate surpassed the median home price growth rate – here affordability has actually increased for nurses. The Windy City’s median home price is yet to reach pre-recession levels, which means Chicago is more affordable for nurses now than it was 10 years ago.