Valued help – $15.39 an hour

As volunteers throughout the U.S. celebrated National Youth Service Day on April 20, Independent Sector reported the hourly value of a volunteer grew to $15.39 in 2000 from $14.83 in 1999.

Independent Sector, a nonprofit trade group that tracks giving and volunteering in the U.S., bases its hourly value on the average hourly wage for non-agricultural workers published in the Economic Reort of the President – and increases that value by 12 percent to estimate fringe benefits.

In 1999, 109 million people reported they volunteered an estimated 19.9 billion hours, which Independent Sector said represented the equivalent of more than 9 million full-time employees at a value of $22.5.9 billion.

Data on estimated volunteering for 2000 will not be available until October.

Sara Melendez, president and CEO of Independent Sector, a nonprofit trade group, said in a statement that the slumping U.S. economy would force nonprofits to turn more than ever to volunteers.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of the hundreds of thousands of nonprofit organizations in this country,” she said.

National Youth Service Day, organized by Youth Service America, will feature millions of young people participating in thousands of volunteer projects throughout the U.S. on April 20 and 21.

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