Nonprofit Jobs Jump, But Health Care In Reverse

Nonprofit job growth saw double-digit expansion across every field but health care, gaining more than 8% overall from May to June.

The sector gained more than 60,000 of the estimated 745,000 jobs still lost as of May, according to data from the Center for Civil Society Studies (CCSS) at Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that nonfarm payroll employment increased by 850,000 for June, compared to 559,000 the previous month.

As part of an effort to track the ongoing impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, CCSS has analyzed monthly data from the latest BLS Employment Situation Report to estimate nonprofit job losses since the pandemic was declared in March 2020.

“While this is a hopeful sign, the volatility in the health care sector — the single largest field of nonprofit employment — makes it difficult to predict when nonprofit jobs will return to their pre-pandemic levels,” according to a statement from CCSS officials. “However, recent strong recoveries seen in previously hard-hit fields such as education and the arts provide a view of a possible way forward for at least these crucial sectors of the U.S. nonprofit portion of the economy as a sizable proportion of states and localities that have achieved high rates of vaccination continue to be empowered to relax restrictions on economic and social activity.”

The center’s estimates of time to recovery do not fully take into account the impact of the new Delta variant of COVID-19 which is rampaging in states where vaccination rates remain low.

The 3.7% of jobs recovered in June was the highest rate since March, when it was 4.9%. Job growth in the nonprofit sector continued to rebound into June, seeing its strongest three-month recovery since last summer.

The sector regained more than 40% of lost jobs in June, July and August 2020 before slowing down. The spring months of March, April and May saw a combined 10% of lost jobs recovered, twice the 4.2% rate from September to February.

The nonprofit jobs report for June was led by the smallest sectors in terms of percentage growth but each field grew by no less than 12%, except for health care, which had the only decline:

  • Other fields, +15.6%, +2,636
  • Religious, grantmaking, +15.2%, +10,878
  • Social assistance, +14.9%, +13,317
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, +13.3%, +11,421
  • Education, +12.2%, +27,383
  • Health care, -2.3%, -5,300

Other fields includes construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, scientific, and others that represent approximately 4.4% of total nonprofit employment.

Nonprofits accounted for at least 12.5 million jobs before the COVID-19 pandemic and had lost an estimated 1.64 million jobs during the first three months, a decline of 13.2% as of May 2020. Nonprofits have now recovered a combined 58.3% of those jobs lost, leaving slightly more than 40% of losses unrecovered.

The nonprofit workforce remains down 684,896 jobs — 5.5% smaller than before the pandemic — with several fields now within 5% of pre-pandemic levels:

  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, -21%, -74,681
  • Education, -9.8%, -197,070
  • Religious, grantmaking, -7.4%, -60,755
  • Social assistance, -5%, -75,978
  • Other fields, -2.6%, -14,278
  • Health care, -3.5%, -234,375

Nonprofits have recovered an average of 46,443 jobs per month, which would put the overall sector on track to fully recover the remaining 684,869 jobs lost in just less than 15 months, roughly September 2022. Most fields would recover within the year, except for religious, grantmaking, civic, and professional organizations, which would take almost 13 months (July 2022). It’s unclear why the health care field saw job losses during the most recent period, according to center officials, and was the only sector without a reliable basis for estimating future recovery.