Nonprofit Job Expansion Beats The Private Sector

Common wisdom holds that nonprofit employment is essentially an urban phenomenon. But new data generated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics using a technique developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies suggests that this might not be universally true.

While 88 percent of U.S. nonprofit employment is located in metropolitan areas, so is 87 percent of for-profit employment. The nonprofit share of private jobs in metropolitan areas exceeds that in the nation as a whole — only slightly (10.4 percent vs. 10.2 percent).

Nearly half (48 percent) of the 380 metropolitan areas for which data are newly available have nonprofit shares of their private employment less than the 10.2 percent U.S. average. And at 7.1 percent, the average share of private employment that nonprofits account for in these 48 percent of metropolitan regions is well less than the 8.7 percent average in the nation’s non-metropolitan areas.

These and other findings of the latest BLS data will be available shortly in the Johns Hopkins 2020 Nonprofit Employment Report. Among these other findings are:

  • Nonprofit employment has continued its record of growth, expanding by 2 percent between 2016 and 2017, compared to 1.5 percent growth in for-profit employment,
  • Even with government employment included, the nonprofit workforce edged out the total workforce in all fields of manufacturing during 2017, making it the third largest workforce of all U.S. industries, behind only retail trade and food and accommodations. The nonprofit advantage over manufacturing is even more pronounced when we focus only on private employment; and,
  • Nonprofit average wages exceed those of for-profit firms in many fields in which both are involved — including social assistance, nursing and residential care, hospitals, ambulatory health, and higher education,

The full BLS nonprofit data files for 2013-2017 can be downloaded here. An in-depth analysis of the 2017 and 2013-2017 Metro Statistical Area BLS data will be available from the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies in January 2020 and at ccss.jhu.edu. The 2017 data, including MSA level and comparative industry data, will be available through the Center’s Nonprofit Works: An Interactive Database on the Nonprofit Economy in early 2020.