NPO Jobs Recovery Stalled In September

Nonprofit job growth slowed in September with the first overall monthly loss of 2021 bringing to an end eight consecutive months of job gains.

Overall, nonprofits lost an estimated 2,499 workers compared to August, representing an additional loss of about 0.4% over the 557,000 jobs still lost as of August.

It’s only the third time since June 2020 that nonprofit jobs have seen a drop in job recovery, down 0.2%, in addition to September 2020, down 0.7% and December 2020 down 3%.

The latest estimates come from the Center for Civil Society Studies (CCSS) at Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking nonprofit job growth based on the Employee Situation Report released monthly by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

“While September’s stalling of the consistent, if slow, recovery seen over the course of 2021 is discouraging — especially the sizable losses recorded in educational institutions — it is important to note that disruptions to normal hiring patterns make the education field difficult to track in real time,” according to a statement from CCSS. It’s too early to say whether September “portends a long-term trend, or whether future revisions and seasonal hiring will see the sector’s recovery accelerate as we head into the fall and winter months.”

Leading job growth during the month were social assistance organizations, up 12,249, and arts, entertainment and recreational organizations continued their recovery by adding 6,673 jobs. The education field shed an estimated 13,408 jobs while nonprofit health care institutions lost another 7,602 jobs followed by religious, grantmaking, civic, professional and similar organizations, which lost 4,244 jobs in September.

Social assistance organizations had the strongest recovery in September 2021 at 4.7% of their initial 259,000 job losses, bringing the overall job recovery in this field to 71%; while arts, entertainment, and recreational institutions recovered a further 3.2% of their initial 206,000 job losses during September, for a total of 67.6% of the jobs initially estimated to have been lost in this field.

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. nonprofit institutions accounted for at least 12.5 million total jobs. During the first three months of the pandemic, nonprofits lost an estimated 1.64 million, reducing the workforce by 13.2% as of May 2020.

For the six months of March through August, nonprofits regained about one-fifth (21.4%) of the estimated 1.64 million jobs lost in the first three months of the pandemic.

Educational institutions have recovered about half (51%) of the estimated 323,000 jobs lost as of May 2020; religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations have recovered 73% of the estimated 147,000 jobs initially lost; and health care institutions have recovered 60% of their 547,500 early job losses.

Assuming an average monthly rate of nonprofit job recovery from January through September 2021 of 44,624 nonprofit jobs, CCCS estimates the sector will take just over a year, 12.5 months, to return to pre-COVID levels of employment. That’s an increase of about a month over the August prediction of 11.4 months, pushing the full recovery to September or October 2022.

CCSS was unable to estimate a time-to-full-recovery for the health care field, which has seen an overall loss of about 4,700 total jobs since January 2021.