Nonprofit Rehiring Gains Continue But Slow

Nonprofit job growth slowed in August after two strong months of gains, stymied by the Delta variant of the coronavirus (COVID-19) but still regaining about two-thirds of the jobs lost in the first three months of the pandemic.

Nonprofits gained 42,131 jobs in August, representing a gain of 6.97% of the 607,000 nonprofit jobs still lost as of July, according to the latest estimate by the Center for Civil Society Studies (CCSS) at Johns Hopkins University. Educational institutions saw the majority of the gains ahead of a new school year:

  • Educational services, +18.2% – 28,518/18
  • Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, +13.7% – 5,140
  • Arts, entertainment and recreation, +8.2% – 5,509
  • Social assistance, +0.2% – 123
  • Health care, -1.0% – 2,129
  • Other fields, +29.3% – 3,121

The overall private, non-farm economy added 243,000 jobs nationwide during August.

“August’s jobs data clearly reflected the impact of the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases occasioned by the Delta variant, resulting in a much slower increase in jobs in the overall economy and therefore in the nonprofit sector than we saw over the previous two months,” the CCSS estimated in a statement. “While this was not unexpected, the concerning loss of jobs in the healthcare sector will bear careful monitoring. While both the educational and arts sectors continued their recent recovery trends in August, given the continuing impacts of the Delta variant, the return to in-person schooling, and the coming colder weather, it is difficult to predict whether these trends — and the sector’s overall pace of recovery — will hold in the months ahead.”

At its current pace, overall nonprofit job growth should return the sector to pre-pandemic employment levels within a year, with most subsectors reaching that level faster.

Based on an average of 49,525 nonprofit jobs recovered per month in 2021 so far, CCCS estimates that it could take about 11.4 months for nonprofits to return to pre-COVID levels of employment. Most subsectors would recover within the year, with the quickest found among other fields (2.8 months) and religious, grantmaking, civic (4.5 months) and the longest among social assistance (13 months) and arts, entertainment and recreation (7.8 months).

CCCS estimates that during the first three months of the pandemic, in March, April and May 2020, nonprofits lost some 1.64 million of at least 12.5 million jobs, reducing the nonprofit workforce by 13.2% as of May 2020. Since then, nonprofits have recovered nearly two-thirds (65.6%) of those jobs lost, despite the slowdown in August. Last month’s modest 2.6% recovery is the lowest since an estimated 1.9% in April. Since June 2020, only two months have seen a drop in job growth: September 2020 (-0.7%) and December 2020 (-3.0%).

As of August, the nonprofit workforce still remained about 564,763 jobs smaller than its estimated pre-pandemic level, about 4.5%. The sector taking the biggest hit has been arts, entertainment and recreation:

  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, -17.4% – 61,801
  • Educational services, -6.4% – 128,543
  • Social assistance, -4.9% – 74,909
  • Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, -3.9% – 32,245
  • Health care, -3.3% – 223,863
  • Other fields, -1.4% – 7,583

Within health care, the nursing and residential care field is estimated to be down by more than 131,000 jobs — more than 11% — compared with pre-pandemic staffing levels.