As a new-grad who has full-time RN employment, and also as someone who closely follows economic news and issues, I'll try to field this for you as best I can.
What's the scoop, seasoned nurses and new grads? . . . The low-down is that yes, it is difficult to find work as a new RN. Is it impossible? No, obviously not...but it's about on-par with a few other career choices, but better than most. The unemployment rate for RN's, last I checked (with data from c. 2010) is around 2%. You will find work with determination an effort, but a job is not going to be guaranteed or catered to you most likely.
Is this dearth of nursing jobs a consequence of the economy? . . . Firstly, there is no death of nursing jobs. There are nursing jobs, and places do hire new graduates. It's simply not as easy as it used to be. It used to be you'd have multiple job offers before even having a license. It's far more difficult now, but the job market is not exactly frozen either. It is absolutely a consequence of the economy.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a privately run hospital with staff, especially nurses, who would say "We are 100% adequately staffed in all units, every shift." Hospitals are not full-up with nurses -- there *IS* a shortage of RN's. However, to explain this dichotomy you have to understand a couple things about private businesses (which most hospitals in the US are).
Because most hospitals are private businesses, they have to deal with balance sheets. They typically try to spend less money than they take in. Hospitals have seen a large decrease in paying customers. This is due to the recession stripping many people of health insurance either through it being supplied by their employer or simply not being able to afford it with no income. This causes two things to happen: For one, people put off non-urgent care, and two, when they seek care they can't pay for it. Both of these things put a huge dent in hospital revenues.
The solution, as with any other business is to cut costs. They see new-graduate RN training as a huge cost, because it is. It's tens of thousands of dollars. Think about it... doubling up on RN's for preceptoring, paying you for days when you're orienting and not doing any work, etc. They'd rather fill spots with nurses who can hit the ground running and take up only a week's time rather than 3-4 months for this sort of thing.
Now, they will still hire graduates here and there, but they just want to be very sure in their investments since it comes with such a cost. This is why it is very competitive and selective. Turnover DOES happen with new RN's, and it does the hospital no good to invest in a new RN who decides it's not for them in a few months and takes a hike. When you look at it from this perspective, it begins to make more sense why things are the way they are.
Will prospects pick up within the next decade? . . . This is very likely. Most economists (forgive me for not having a source on-hand to cite, but I get most of my information from NPR's Planet Money if you're curious) project that the economy overall should begin getting back on-track with hiring and investments resuming within the next 2-4 years. Regardless of what may or may not happen with new healthcare reform bills, we should consequently begin seeing more paying hospital customers. This will directly allow hospitals to resume filling vacant RN positions with external candidates at a higher rate. Past 10-years time we will also begin seeing the consequences of wide-spread baby-boomer generation retirement. This will remove a huge percentage of current active RN's from the field, and increase healthcare demand. It's actually probably going to get pretty messy...sure, RN jobs will be easier to get, but I'm not too optimistic about what the average quality of care in our systems will be at that point either. But that's an entirely different avenue of speculation...
Is nursing so saturated w/ new grads that getting a job outside of po-dunk, TX is next to impossible? No, it's not impossible... it's just competitive. You will need to equip yourself with the means to compete. You will want to make yourself stand out as someone hireable. You don't want to just submit dozens of electronic applications and sit around hoping to yourself to get a phonecall like the guy in this video is doing.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to network. Volunteer or join nursing organizations so that you can get to know people who might have the hookups with hiring power. Hospitals really just want to be sure they aren't wasting money with what new-grads they are gonna take.
Sure, moving is always an option, and was one I was willing to take too before I got hired where I live. If you want to get a job quickly it's not a bad idea. Is it 100% necessary? No, probably not... but I can't say it wouldn't have a higher chance of success. However, you still have to come off as a good candidate to those hospitals as well... they're not gonna just hand you a job either without finding you as a good fit -- so even if you plan to move, don't slack on your resume and interviewing skills. Always sell yourself as best you can!