I live near Seattle, and our hospital is still hiring, although they are not renewing any traveler/agency contracts.
Our CEO has been pretty up front with us about the economy. They plan to lay off 25-50 staff, none nurses. But things I never considered, the hospital system our hospital is a part of has money in the stock market just like I do and has lost a whopping large amount as the stock market has crashed, limiting thier ability to fund things.
They are also really begging us to limit our overtime, saying if they could decrease the overtime in nursing from 8% where it currently is, to 4%, that would equal those 50 layoffs they have to make.
So while I know sometimes overtime is unavoidable, I also know nurses who deliberately stay late for the extra money. I think we, as nurses, need to do our parts to help our hospitals out.
I know I have, in the past, had a kind of bad attitude toward the hospital about things like working short, and too heavy of pt loads, and while I'm not excusing that, I think when I see people around me losing their jobs it makes me see that I am very fortunate to have a fairly secure job and I do understand the hospitals' financial position a little more so I'm a more willing to work a little harder and try to do my part to help the hospital weather this tough economic time.
But right now, yeah, we get low census occassionally and there aren't many extra shifts. I think people are scared, and so people are conserving vacation time, putting off retirement, etc. Fortunately our hospital is so large that low census doesn't come around too often.