Tracking the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on nonprofit employment

As of the latest data available, nonprofit organizations employed the third largest workforce in the U.S. economy, overtaking manufacturing by nearly 100,000 workers nation-wide in 2017. Indeed, the only industries employing more workers than the nonprofit sector in 2017 were retail trade and restaurants and hotels.
However, as is the case with all sectors of the economy, nonprofits face challenging times as a result of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. The precise scale of these losses is not yet clearly apparent, however, since the Bureau of Labor Statistics has not updated its 2017 nonprofit employment data. We therefore do not know whether nonprofits managed to repeat their prior documented practice of resisting the sharper declines in employment that for-profit employers, even in the same service fields, experienced during previous recessions.
However, in an attempt to provide baseline against which to measure the response of the sector once updated data become available, and to surface areas of concern, the Johns Hopkins Economic Data Project has undertaken a series of estimates of the projected impact of COVID-related job losses on nonprofits, beginning with an estimated 1.6 million job losses from March through May included in our 2020 Nonprofit Employment Report. To do so, we took the conservative approach of assuming that nonprofit job losses have been roughly proportional to the share of nonprofit jobs in the various fields in which nonprofits were active as of the latest date for which such data are available, i.e., 2017. We then applied these percentages to the changes in employment as reported in monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Reports.
Collected below are links to our estimates, including the initial estimates from the 2020 Nonprofit Employment report and updates beginning in August. We will continue to provide these reports as the crisis unfolds.

  • NEWS RELEASE | Nonprofit Employment Recovery Slowed Significantly in September, Still Down By Nearly 8%
    OCTOBER 21, 2020 For immediate release Contact: Chelsea Newhouse   As part of our continued effort to track the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on nonprofit employment, we have analyzed data from the latest BLS Employment Situation Report to estimate nonprofit job losses through September 2020.   How did nonprofits fare in September? Unfortunately, the month of September showed ...
  • BREAKING NEWS: Nonprofit jobs still down by nearly 1 million despite a partial recovery
    SEPTEMBER 4, 2020 For immediate release Contact: Chelsea Newhouse   Despite a partial recovery of the U.S. economy from the recent pandemic, new data released today by the U.S. Bureau Labor Statistics suggests that nonprofit employment is still down by an estimated nearly 1 million jobs compared to where it stood in February 2020, before the ...
  • The 2020 Nonprofit Employment Report: The 3rd largest employer faces the COVID-19 crisis
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media contact: Chelsea Newhouse     A new report from the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies finds that U.S. nonprofits maintained their position as the third largest employer in the U.S. economy, overtaking manufacturing by nearly 100,000 workers nation-wide in 2017, and exceeding that industry in 28 states and territories across the U.S. Indeed, ...