Nonprofit Employment Hit 11.4 Million For 2012

The number of employees working for 501(c)(3) organizations hit 11.4 million, or 10.3 percent of all private sector employment in 2012, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Those employees earned $532 billion, which was 9.8 percent of all private wages.

The greatest concentration of 501(c)(3) employees was found in Washington, D.C., at 26.6 percent, followed by New York and Rhode Island, both at 18.1 percent. The lowest percentages were found in Nevada at 2.7 percent, Texas at 5.1 percent, and Alabama at 5.4 percent.

The BLS called the numbers unofficial research data and to be counted an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual.

Nonprofit employment steadily increased from 2007 through 2012, even as the rest of private employment declined during that period as a result of the recession, according to the BLS statistics. The vast majority of nonprofit jobs (68 percent) are in health care and social services, followed by education (16 percent).

When you remove healthcare and education from the equation, nonprofit employees make up 2.1 percent nationally, with Washington, D.C., New York and Rhode Island remaining in the top spots with the lowest being Nevada at 0.6 percent, Mississippi at 0.9 percent and Texas at 1 percent.

The BLS broke out the numbers as:

  • 7,716,964 (68 percent) healthcare;
  • 1,812,270 (16 percent) education;
  • 784,675 (7 percent) other services;
  • 289,111 (3 percent) arts, entertainment and recreation; and,
  • 817,683 (7 percent) all remaining sectors.

Several organizations, including the Aspen Institute, Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, Foundation Center, GuideStar, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, and the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute have been pushing the BLS to release this information for several years. The data will be released annually. The ability to release the data annually will depend on whether stakeholders can demonstrate that it’s useful, and resources permit, according to the Aspen Institute, which has urged those using the data to communicate the uses to BLS through their websites.