Jobs still growing in nonprofit sector

Nonprofit jobs grew nearly one percent between 2009 and 2010 and  five percent in the last three years. A new report says the sector’s job growth looks favorable compared to for-profit jobs, which fell more than eight percent in the last three years.

Nonprofits employ nearly ten percent of all private workers in the country, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzed by the authors of the study, part of the Johns Hopkins Nonprofit Economic Data Project.

From 2000 to 2007, nonprofits added jobs at an overall annual average rate of 2.3 percent. This rate has steadily declined each of the last three years to 0.8 percent in 2010. The pattern was reflected in nearly all 45 states for which data were available, and for-profit employment declined in every state but North Dakota and Arkansas. However, states varied significantly in their nonprofit job growth, ranging from 0.9 percent in Hawaii to 10.7 percent in Idaho.

The study says that nonprofit employment during the last three years fell 0.5 percent among civic organizations but grew at rates ranging from 1.9 to 2.5 percent in the arts, education, professional services, and health and social assistance.

The health field accounts for 50 percent of all nonprofit jobs, with education representing 13 percent and social services 11 percent. The health care workforce is the fastest growing job sector in the U.S.

The report doesn’t specify how much of the sector’s job growth is attributable to the stimulus package. Neither does it correlate job growth with salaries, or track the economic impact of job growth in the sector. This last point is an important area for future research: how much of the sector’s job growth translates to increased revenues for organizations and higher economic impacts on communities? Models for analyzing nonprofits’ direct and indirect contribution to local economies (e.g., employee spending, client/beneficiary income and spending, multiplier effect, etc.) could make these employment statistics more useful, and make a case for investment to funders and policy makers.

Check out the report here.


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