The Nonprofit Sector in Maryland: An update

By on February 28, 2013

Today, the Center is pleased to release an update on nonprofit employment in our home state of Maryland. The report, produced by our Nonprofit Economic Data Project in cooperation with Maryland Nonprofits, finds that the nonprofit sector in the state continues to play a vital – even dominant – role in Maryland’s economic life and recovery from the recent recession.
Maryland boasts one of the most robust nonprofit sectors in the country in terms of employment. Nationally, the nonprofit sector employs 8.4 percent of the total workforce. In Maryland, that number is 11% — that means that nonprofits in Maryland employ 1 IN EVERY 9 WORKERS in the state. Indeed, the nonprofit sector in Maryland is the SECOND LARGEST EMPLOYER among state industries, trailing retail trade by only about 12,000 paid workers. Significantly, nonprofit organizations actually employ more than 2 ½ times the number of workers employed in the manufacturing industry, and almost twice the number of workers in the construction industry – two industries that are often considered absolutely vital to the fiscal health of the state.
The importance of the nonprofit sector to overall fiscal health of the state becomes even clearer when one focuses in on private employment (i.e., when one removes state, local, and federal government workers from the equation). Nonprofits employ ONE IN SEVEN non-public workers in the state of Maryland—more than the state’s real estate, information, transportation, and finance and insurance industries combined.
Of course, looking at paid workers does not tell the whole story of the employment impact of the nonprofit sector. Nonprofits are largely unique in that they not only have a paid workforce – they also rely heavily on volunteers in fulfilling their missions. In Maryland, we found that when these 100,000+ FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT VOLUNTEERS are added to the total employment numbers for the sector, nonprofits come out on top of all other industries, making them the SINGLE LARGEST EMPLOYER in the state.


The rate of job growth experienced by the nonprofit sector in Maryland increased by 75% in 2011-2012 over the exceptionally low (though still positive) rate observed in the previous period, which may reflect a sustained recovery following the recent recession. In addition, the sector has continued to slightly outpace the job growth experienced by the for-profit sector in the state, reflecting the continuation of an ongoing trend. However, when we look more closely at the data, we find that, in some of the key nonprofit fields – including nursing homes, education, social assistance, and the arts – for-profit businesses actually grew their workforce more rapidly than those in the nonprofit sector, resulting in a loss of nonprofit market share in those fields.
This finding has important implications for the nonprofit sector, providing evidence of increased competition from for-profits and raising questions about why that competition is increasing and what can be done to help nonprofits continue to fill their role as a vital employment engine. Given the importance of the sector to the state’s economic, social and cultural fabric, understanding this trend is critical to ensuring the sector’s health into the future.
To learn more about this important sector in Maryland, and to see these nonprofit employment numbers broken down by region, you can download the full report here. This report is the latest in an extensive series of Maryland nonprofit Employment reports, which you can browse here. You can also explore additional data though Maryland Nonprofits’ “Nonprofits by the Numbers” interactive tool.