Westchester County Nonprofits: A Major Economic Engine

By on March 5, 2014

Today, we are pleased to release a new report highlighting the crucial role played by nonprofits in New York’s Westchester County.
The report, produced by our Nonprofit Economic Data Project in collaboration with Nonprofit Westchester with funding from the Westchester Community Foundation, reveals that the nonprofit sector is not only the county’s largest industry in terms of employment, but that it has also shown remarkable resiliency through the recent recessions. These latter findings are consistent with what we have found nationally and in other regions including Virginia, Maryland, and Illinois.
Here are just a few key takeaways from the report:
Figure 1Westchester’s private, nonprofit organizations employed 53,987 paid workers as of the first quarter of 2013. This makes Westchester’s nonprofit sector the largest industry in the county, employing more people than the construction, finance, and wholesale trade industries combined.
This translates to 13.6 percent of the county’s total workforce, putting Westchester County well above the national average of 8.4 percent, and slightly above nearby Nassau County (13.5%) and New York City (13.1%). When we remove public sector workers from the analysis, we find that the sector employs an even more remarkable 16 percent of the private workforce – that’s 1 out of every 6 private workers in the county. This makes clear the hugely important role that the nonprofit sector plays in the economic life of the county.
Fields. Where are these employees concentrated within the nonprofit sector? The answer is clear: the health care fields, including hospitals (14,375 workers, or 27 percent of all nonprofit employees) and nursing homes (10,961 workers, or 20 percent), dominate employment in Westchester’s nonprofit organizations. See the infographic at the bottom of this post for more detail on the distribution of employment between fields of nonprofit activity.

As we have found in previous regional and national reports, the nonprofit sector in Westchester County proved to be the most resilient sector, by far, over the past decade. Growing 8.4 percent between 2003 and 2013, the sector far outpaced for-profits which grew an anemic 1.2 percent over the same period, and local government which shrunk by 9.6 percent.
The 2008-2010 recession. But what about the recession? The answer may be surprising: not only did the nonprofit sector continue to grow at a rate of .6 percent per year during the 2008-2010 recession (versus a 4.4 percent decline in the for-profit sector), but it came out of this period 2.6 percent larger than it was before the economic downturn.

These findings, in conjunction with previous reports showing similar trends around the country, are compelling evidence of the resiliency of the nonprofit sector and of its important role in helping to blunt the impact of the recent economic difficulties on employment in many parts of the U.S.
The report discussed here also looks in detail at data regarding nonprofit wages and compensation, the impact of nonprofit activity on tax revenues in the county, and the growing competition from for-profit businesses in traditional fields of nonprofit activity such as health care and education.
The complete report, “Westchester County Nonprofits: A Major Economic Engine,” including methodology and data sources, can be downloaded here or from npwestchester.org.