News and analysis
October 19, 2014

New Data: Nonprofit Employment Defied Recession

Despite a global recession, U.S. nonprofit employment rose steadily during the end of the last decade and beyond, according to new research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

From 2007 to 2012, the number jobs at organizations registered as charities with the Internal Revenue Service increased 8.6 percent, climbing from 10.5-million to 11.4-million. That figure rose year-to-year throughout the entire five-year stretch, climbing even as the total number of American jobs dropped by 2.7 percent over the same period of time.

"We wondered how that could possibly be," said Rick Clayton, chief of the division of administrative statistics and labor turnover at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Turns out, strong hiring in education and health care helped buoy the numbers while the rest of the economy bled jobs.

"Both of those industries have continued to grow," Mr. Clayton told reporters.

Among nonprofits, 67.5 percent of all employees work in health care and social services, according to the 2012 figures. Hospital employees account for 52 percent of that subset and 35.1 percent of the total nonprofit work force. Education workers make up 15.9 percent of all nonprofit employees.

The Bureau’s data also include a state-by-state analysis. It shows employment in the Northeast and upper Midwest was driven in significant part by nonprofit employment. Slightly more than one in four employees in Washington, D.C., for instance, work at a nonprofit organization.

The table below provides a breakdown of the nonprofit work force as well as insight into which types of charity workers fared best during this turbulent economic time.

Field Number of Jobs (2012) Percent Job Growth (Since 2007) Annual Wage (2012) Percent Wage Growth (Since 2007)
All fields 11,426,870 8.6% $46,568 16.4%
Health care and social assistance 7,716,964 8.2% $47,324 16.8%
Educational services 1,812,270 9.9% $48,548 14.7%
Other services 784,675 3.6% $33,257 16.9%
Arts, entertainment, and recreaction 289,111 13% $28,106 5.5%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 251,288 7.1% $71,221 14.9%
Management of companies and enterprises 219,506 30.4% $61,031 25%
Administrative and support and waste management 77,766 5% $45,509 34.5%
Retail trade 69,678 34.3% $20,617 11%
Information 63,351 -2.5% $45,572 16.6%
Real estate and rental leasing 35,825 -6.5% $32,235 14%
Accomodation and food services 33,637 17% $19,214 9.7%
Finance and insurance 27,849 -28.9% $77,144 15.2%
Transportation and warehousing 18,393 24.8% $30,632 13.8%
Construction 8,526 11.9% $42,624 14.6%
Manufacturing 6,266 -5.6% $32,480 -1.6%
Wholesale trade 3,720 -9.4% $43,973 12.1%
Agriculture 1,788 22.5% $30,656 17.1%

To review the data, visit the Bureau’s website.

Send an e-mail to Avi Wolfman-Arent.