Nonprofit Job Recovery At A Crawl

The first gains in educational services jobs since September outpaced combined losses in healthcare, social assistance and the arts, pushing nonprofit job growth into positive territory for January.

Still, job growth was extremely modest overall, up just 5,158 jobs, or 0.3%, for January, according to the latest report from the Center for Civil Society Studies (CCSS) at Johns Hopkins University. Nonprofits remain down 958,000 jobs, or 7.7%, since February 2020.

The projection of when nonprofit jobs would recover to pre-COVID levels was extended by almost 6 months compared to the estimate this past December. At an average of 40,640 nonprofit jobs recovered per month, it would take almost two years (23.6 months) to recover the estimated 957,731 nonprofits jobs still lost, “reflecting the sizable downward revisions of nonprofit job losses included in January’s report for November and December.” 

The estimate assumed the average rate of nonprofit job recovery from July 2020 through January 2021 over the foreseeable future.

Job growth in healthcare turned negative for the first time since May, down 12,858, or 5.6% for January, followed by social assistance, down 4,603, 3.8%, and the arts, culture and recreation, down 3,600, 2.9%.

Education gained 24,049 jobs, up 7%, to overcome losses in those three sectors. More modest growth was reported in religious, grantmaking, civic, and professional organizations, up 1,076, or 1.2%, and other fields, up 849 jobs, or 2.9%.

“Even this marginal improvement in January was confined to two fields while all other fields experienced job losses,” according to the CCSS. “Especially notable given the enormous surge of COVID cases was the first evidence of recent losses in nonprofit health care employment, perhaps reflecting the infection and burn-out of these overly taxed front-line health care workers.”

During the first three months of the pandemic (March, April and May), the center estimated that nonprofits lost 1.64 million of 12.5 million jobs. After initial job losses were recovered over the summer, improvements slowed in September before dropping in December by more than 3%.

Since before the pandemic, lost jobs as a percentage of existing jobs was highest among arts and entertainment organizations but by aggregate jobs, education led the way:

  • Arts and entertainment, -36.3% / 129,367 jobs;
  • Education, -15.9% / 318,306;
  • Religious, grantmaking, and civic associations, -10.9% / 89,324;
  • Social service, -8.2% / 125,794;
  • Other fields, -4.5% / 25,043; and,
  • Healthcare, -3.3% / 223,428.

“While January’s slight recovery of nonprofit jobs was a marked improvement over December’s additional losses, the nonprofit sector still has a long way to go to rebuild its workforce to pre-pandemic levels,” according to the CCSS. “In light of the still-uncharted track of the pandemic, uncertainties surrounding vaccine availability and injection, and the increased demands on nonprofits in fields crucial to the recovery of our citizens and economy, it is increasingly urgent that governments at all levels build into their legislative and policy interventions a clear recognition of the importance of supporting nonprofits.”