Since 1.6 million nonprofit jobs were lost in the three months after the pandemic was declared, steady growth in nonprofit jobs each month was derailed in December, wiping out nearly two months of gains. It’s projected to take 1.5 years for the sector to recover entirely but within most fields it could be a year or less. Arts and entertainment has lost the bulk of jobs and could take as long as two years to recover.
Lester M. Salamon is director of the Center for Civil Society Studies (CCSS) and a Professor Emeritus at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, which has been tracking Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data and estimating on nonprofit jobs each month since the pandemic. “December was a very disappointing month,” Salamon said on this episode of Fresh Research, a podcast by The NonProfit Times. “There is no subsector that has come back all the way.”
CCSS estimated a loss of almost 51,000 nonprofit jobs in December, down 3.1 percent from November. The previous three months saw increases of less than 2 percent after jumps of 24 percent and 9 percent in June and July, respectively.
Nonprofit employment was down by an estimated 930,000 jobs, or 7.4 percent overall, by the end of 2020 compared to estimates pre-COVID in February. The most severely impacted subsector was arts, entertainment and recreation, which lost 36.6 percent of jobs, followed by education, 15 percent; civic associations, religious, and grant-making organizations, 9.4 percent, and social service, 9 percent. Healthcare fared the best, down 3.1 percent since the pandemic.
Based on CCSS calculations assuming the average rate of recovery over the past six months continues for the foreseeable future, it would take almost a year-and-a-half to return to a pre-COVID level of overall nonprofit employment. Within certain fields, the recovery would project to take anywhere from 7 months (healthcare) to 25 months (arts). Arts is the outlier there, as all the other fields would be projected to recover sooner within a year or less. Given new information about vaccine availability and potentially energized federal attention promised by the incoming Biden administration, there is reason to expect that job recovery will resume.