Nonprofit Job Recovery Continued During May

Nonprofits gained an estimated 63,192 jobs in May, compared to April, a gain of 7.9% of the 796,061 still lost, according to the Center for Civil Society Studies (CCSS) at Johns Hopkins University. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the total non-farm payroll employment rose by 559,000 in May.

Nonprofit job growth was positive across all six fields tracked, including double-digit growth in nearly four subsectors during May.

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.

“Following a particularly strong March and weak April, May’s return to a more rapid recovery rate is a hopeful sign, according to authors of the report. “While it is too early to know whether the summer will see a continuation or acceleration of this recovery, the country’s continued vaccination campaign, resulting in re-openings of particularly hard-hit nonprofit industries including arts venues, overall decline infection rates, and targeted support for nonprofits emerging from the recent Congressional recovery package provide a basis for optimism.”

The authors noted that the slowing of vaccinations well below the “herd immunity” target level, and the stubborn emergence of a new, more troublesome variant, make clear that continued vigilance is still be needed. “This illustrates the continued urgent need for more frequent and timely releases of nonprofit employment and wage data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” according to the authors.

The May nonprofit jobs report was led by arts, entertainment and recreation but each field saw growth, including four sectors near or above 10%:

  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, +11.5%,+11,126
  • Education, +11.4%,+28,872
  • Social assistance, +10.2%,+9,577
  • Other fields, +9.8%,+1,953
  • Health care, +4.2%,+9,774
  • Religious, grantmaking, +1.4%,+1,016

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

Nonprofit jobs have seen growth each month of 2021, with the 3.8% in May trailing only March at 4.9%. Still, the nonprofit workforce remains down 732,869 jobs — 5.9% smaller than before the pandemic. Arts and entertainment remains the most impacted on a percentage basis:

  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, -24.1%,-85,839
  • Education, -11.2%,-223,886
  • Religious, grantmaking, -8.8%,-72,330
  • Social assistance, -5.5%,-84,650
  • Other fields, -3.2%,-17,929
  • Health care, -3.3%,-221,474

The nonprofit sector is still on pace to return to pre-pandemic levels of employment in an estimated 15.8 months. For the first time in months, arts and entertainment is no longer on pace for the longest road to recovery, at just over a year (12.6 months). As of the May report, health care (14 months) and religious, grantmaking, civic and professional (14.9 months) are the only subsectors that surpass 14 months in their recovery. Three areas are still on pace to recover in less than a year: Educational services (8.1 months), social assistance (7.4), and other fields (6.6).