Nonprofits Added Jobs Faster Than Businesses Last Decade, Study Finds

By Noelle Barton in the Chronicle of Philanthropy on January 19, 2012

Nonprofits added jobs at an average annual rate of more than 2 percent from 2000 to 2010, while for-profit jobs were cut by 0.6 percent each year on average, according to a new study. 

Even during the recession years of 2008 and 2009, charities increased their employment by nearly 2 percent, while for-profit jobs declined by nearly 4 percent, according to the report, which was based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

The study, by the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University, also found that nonprofits are the third largest type of private employer in the United States, behind only retail trade and manufacturing. Nonprofits employed nearly 10.7 million workers in 2010, which is just over 10 percent of the country’s work force, not counting government employees. More than half of all nonprofit employees have jobs at health-care organizations, while 15 percent work at colleges and other educational institutions.

Although nonprofit organizations added jobs at a higher rate than their for-profit counterparts in general, there were exceptions in some parts of the economy: For example, in the social services, employment grew by an average of only 2.2 percent at nonprofits but by an average of 5.4 percent at for-profits. During that period, the share of social-service jobs held at nonprofits dropped from 62 percent to 54 percent. Similar declines were seen in education and health care.

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