Nonprofit COVID Response Job Layoffs Spiking

A slowdown in nonprofit job recovery that’s been underway for months continued into September, with nonprofit jobs posting a modest 2-percent recovery compared to August, according to data from the Center for Civil Society Studies (CCSS) at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md.

The field of education was the only one tracked that had a decrease from August to September while only social assistance recovered more than 10 percent:

  • Social assistance, +12.8%
  • Other fields, +10.4%
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, +7.8%
  • Health care, +7.3%
  • Other services, +6.8%
  • Education, -23.9%

The other services category includes religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations. The other fields category includes construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, scientific, and others that represent approximately 4.4 percent of total nonprofit employment.

As part of an effort to track the ongoing impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), CCSS has analyzed data from the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Employment Situation Report to estimate nonprofit job losses through September.

The total nonprofit workforce at the end of September 2020 remained down by 7.6 percent from its pre-March 2020 level. Particularly hard-hit were:

  • Arts, entertainment, and recreation, -34.7%
  • Education, -12.6%;
  • Other services, -11.2%
  • Social services, -10%
  • Health care, -4.3%

“With discouraging evidence that the COVID virus is far from tamed and impediments to the return to normalcy in fields in which nonprofits are active likely to remain in place, the estimated 1 million nonprofit workers who have lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic may therefore not regain them anytime soon,” according to the center.

Especially hard hit were nonprofit jobs in service fields that are critical to the COVID response, including nearly 300,000 jobs lost in health care, more than 250,000 jobs lost in private education; more than 150,000 jobs lost in social services, and almost 125,000 jobs lost in the arts.

While almost a quarter of the estimated 1.6 million total pandemic-related nonprofit job losses were recovered in June, the rate of recovery slipped to 9 percent in July, to barely 7 percent in August, and to just 1.1 percent in September. The progressive slowdown in recovery was evident in almost every field.

“With Congress and the administration unable to come to agreement on a meaningful new recovery package, it will be up to strained charities to help the nonprofit workforce cope with the pressures its members are under — a challenge that at least some communities have heroically undertaken,” according to the center.

“In the meantime, we can hope that the imminent election will yield a set of policy measures that can tame the pandemic and thereby open the way to reviving the economy and the workplace for our country’s third largest workforce. Beyond that, it will be more vital than ever to keep a close eye on the status of the nonprofit workforce and ensure that these critical organizations and the workers who allow them to operate receive the support they need and deserve.”