Best U.S. Cities for Nurses

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Best U.S. Cities for Nurses

Three California locales land in the top 10

By Working Nurse
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What do Redding, Hanford and Chico have in common? These three California cities ranked in the top 10 of financial research firm ValuePenguin’s 2015 list of the top 100 U.S. cities for nurses. See the full list at

The Ranking Factor

To create the list, ValuePenguin ranked 377 cities based on U.S. Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for cost of living; mean annual salary for nurses; and “location quotient,” a measure of a particular area’s demand for nursing services. The location quotients were calculated by comparing the concentration of nurses in each city (as a percentage of all occupations) to the national average.

The rankings reflect a balance of these three factors. For example, high salaries might be offset by higher costs of living while less-expensive cities might offer limited job opportunities. In all, 10 California cities made the top 100: Chico, Hanford, Modesto, Napa, Oakland, Redding, Sacramento, Santa Rosa, Stockton and Vallejo. Redding was No. 1 overall.

High Nursing Salaries

There is little mystery to the results. Based on 2014 BLS figures, the mean annual salary for nurses in Hanford is $91,340, 40 percent higher than the national average of $69,790. In top-ranked Redding, not only is the mean annual salary for RNs a handsome $89,960, two of the four largest employers are medical centers and the medical sector is expanding rapidly.

Nurses’ salaries are even higher in Napa, where the average is more than $100,000, and in Oakland, where the mean is a whopping $122,750 per year. However, both of these cities ranked lower overall due to their lower location quotients.


Photo above: At Mercy Medical Center in Redding Calif., registered nurse Tammy Isringhausen (left) and oncology nurse Shar Washburn sing happy birthday to patient Fran Lay.

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