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Nonprofits Showing Positive Job Growth

Nonprofit employers are providing one of the few bright spots in the country's employment picture this Labor Day, according to new data.

Initial analysis of data on 21 states across the country reveals nonprofit employment actually grew by an average of 2.5 percent per year between the second quarter of 2007 and the second quarter of 2009. By contrast, for-profit employment in these states fell during this same period by an average of 3.3 percent per year. This pattern held for every state examined, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

In addition, nonprofit job growth during the recession was actually stronger than it had been from 2001 to 2007, when nonprofit jobs grew by an average of 2.3 percent a year compared with 2.5 percent per year growth during the recession years (2007 to 2009).

However, nonprofits in some fields and some states did worse than others. While the average rate of nonprofit job growth during the recession was 2.5 percent per year, it was only 1.8 percent per year in the nursing home field and 1.4 percent per year in social assistance.

Viewed by state, nonprofit job growth during the recession was also much lower in New Jersey (0.7 percent), in Michigan and Indiana (1.3 percent), in Ohio (1.4 percent), and in Illinois (1.5 percent).

This growth in nonprofit jobs comes at the same time as increased need for nonprofit assistance, the researchers said. A recent report from the Johns Hopkins Nonprofit Listening Post Project found, for example, that nearly 40 percent of organizations surveyed currently lack adequate staff to deliver their programs and services. Staff members at surveyed organizations are facing additional job duties (49 percent of responding organizations), salary freezes (39 percent), increased hours (23 percent), reduced benefits (23 percent) and reduced wages (12 percent).

“That nonprofit organizations have been able to increase employment in the face of the most severe recession since the Great Depression is a testament to the effectiveness of the federal stimulus program, which channeled assistance to many nonprofit organizations, and to the resilience and determination of nonprofit leaders and those who support them in the public and private sectors,” said Lester M. Salamon, study author and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies. “But this accomplishment, impressive though it is, still leaves many needs unmet and many organizations and regions under severe strain.”