Nonprofits Regaining Jobs At Rapid Pace

Nonprofit job growth saw its strongest two-month recovery since last summer and could return to pre-pandemic levels in about a year, according to the latest estimates from the Center for Civil Society Studies (CCSS) at Johns Hopkins University.

The July nonprofit jobs estimates show that organizations gained 67,183 jobs in July compared with June -- almost 10% of the 682,049 still lost as of June.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed a gain of 700,000 private, non-farm jobs nationwide during July. Since the pandemic, CCSS has been providing nonprofit job estimates based on monthly BLS data. 

A revision of June data included in the July report resulted in “sizable retroactive gains” within two nonprofit fields: education; and, religious, grantmaking, civic, professional associations. Education continued a strong recovery, adding more jobs than any other subsector although others saw a large percentage jump during July:

  • Other fields -- +22.7% / 3,120
  • Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional -- +20.5% / 10,220
  • Education -- +14.9% / 28,376
  • Arts, entertainment, recreational -- +11.1% / 8,225
  • Health care -- +6.8% / 15,986
  • Social assistance -- +4.9% / 4,110

The majority of health care gains were at hospitals (15,340), which had lost more than 6,000 jobs in June, and ambulatory health services added 6,157 jobs. Meanwhile nursing and residential care facilities continued a 14-month trend of losses, shedding more than 5,000 jobs in July.

Since February 2020, health care has still lost the most jobs by volume but the biggest fraction of jobs lost has been within the arts and entertainment field:

  • Arts, entertainment --18.5% / 39,656
  • Education -- 8.1% / 162,594
  • Social assistance -- 5.2% / 79,882
  • Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional -- 4.8% / 39,656
  • Health care -- 3.2% / 218,737
  • Other fields --1.9% / 10,654

Nonprofits had lost an estimated 1.64 million since then, or about 13.2% of its workforce. CCSS estimates 1.6% of those jobs were recovered in July but nonprofits remain almost 5% down from pre-pandemic levels, about 615,000 jobs.

June data was adjusted to show 68,000 jobs recovered within nonprofits, about 4.2% of the estimated 1.64 million jobs lost, and another 67,000 in July. Nonprofits have now recovered about 62.6% of the jobs lost as of May 2020.

June revisions increased the share of missing jobs recovered within religious, grantmaking, civic, professional and similar organizations from 3.7% to 14.2% with an upward revision of 18,200 jobs. Education also saw a revision from an initial of 8.5% to 11.6%. The social assistance field saw a downward revision from 5.1% to 2.1%.

Based on an estimated 614,866 jobs still lost, with an average of 49,442 jobs recovered per month during 2021, CCSS estimates that nonprofit employment will return to pre-pandemic levels in just over a year (12.4 months), putting it on target for about July 2022. That’s a slight improvement over the June projection of 15 months.

Strong job growth in July coupled with upward revisions for June saw the most consistent two-month rate of recovery for the nonprofit workforce since summer 2020, according to CCSS. “However, with the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases occasioned by the Delta variant and the potential need for increased measures to mitigate the spread of the virus, it is possible that this trend will stall or reverse -- especially in fields like the arts and education, where capacity limits and shutdowns can have significant impact on employment.”

Data was gathered prior to the current surge in infections and hospitalizations due to the Delta variant. “The next several months will be crucial to understanding how this latest surge will affect employment as a whole and in the nonprofit sector specifically.”