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Nonprofit employment up in downturn

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Lester Salamon

Lester Salamon

Nonprofit jobs grew nearly 1 percent from 2009 to 2010, the third straight year of growth in the face of the economic downturn, a period when nonprofit jobs grew 5 percent, a new report says.

Still, the rate of job grew has declined from 2.6 percent in 2009 to 1.2 percent in 2009 and 0.8 percent in 2010, says a report by the Johns Hopkins Nonprofit Economic Data Project based on data on 45 states from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For-profit jobs, in comparison, fell over 8 percent in 2008, 2009 and 2010, including a decline of 0.9 percent in 2010.

“People tend to overlook the nonprofit sector when thinking about job creation,” Lester M. Salamon, senior author of the report and director of the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University, says in a statement. “We would do well to recognize it as ‘the little engine that could,’ producing a substantial share of job growth we have seen in the U.S. economy.”

Nonprofit now employ 10.5 million worker, or nearly 10 percent of all private workers in the U.S., making the nonprofit workforce the third-largest in the U.S. and trailing only manufacturing and retail trade but far ahead of construction, transportation and finance, the report says.

The pattern of nonprofit job growth and for-profit job loss was reflected in nearly all 45 states for which data were available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.

Nonprofit employment grew in every state during the three-year period, while for-profit employment declined in every state but North Dakota and Arkansas.

The rate of nonprofit job growth between 2007 and 2010 ranged from 0.9 percent in Hawaii to 10.7 percent in Idaho, while the rate of change in for-profit employed ranged from a decline of 15.8 percent in Nevada to a gain of nearly 5 percent in Nevada.

Nonprofit employment for the period fell 0.5 percent among civic organizations but grew at rates ranging from 1.9 percent to 1.5 percent in the fields of education, the arts, professional services, health and social assistance.

Nonprofit employment ranges from 2.6 percent of private employment in Nevada to over 18 percent in New York and Rhode Island.

The health field accounts for 50 percent of all nonprofit jobs, with education accounting for 13 percent and social services for 11 percent.

From 2000 to 2007, nonprofits added jobs an overall annual average rate of 2.3 percent, with the rate of growth dipping in response to the 2002 recession.

For-profit jobs grew at an annual average rate of 0.4 percent for the period, falling sharply during the recession of 2002-03 but growing more rapidly during the subsequent years of growth.

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