COVID-19 JOBS UPDATE, NOVEMBER 2021 | Nonprofits add just 5,000 jobs in November

December 10, 2021
For immediate release
Contact: Chelsea Newhouse
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In our continuing effort to track the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on nonprofit employment, this report documents our estimates of COVID-induced nonprofit job losses through November 2021, as reflected in the November BLS Employment Situation Report. On the heels of a strong recovery in October, the nonprofit workforce added just 5,000 jobs in November during a weak month overall.

Part 1 of this report spotlights the changes in nonprofit employment in November 2021. Part 2 then details the recovery of nonprofit jobs over the past several months and notes where that leaves nonprofit employment as of November compared to the pre-pandemic period. Against this backdrop, Part 3 provides an updated estimate of the time it will take the nonprofit sector to return to pre-pandemic employment levels based on the recovery record from January through November 2021.

PART 1 | Change in Nonprofit Jobs in November 2021

As shown in Figure 1, November saw a small gain of 5,274 nonprofit jobs, reducing the total lost jobs by just 1% of the 490,464 jobs still estimated to be missing as of October.1Our October update found that, as of October 2021, 491,497. However, BLS routine revisions for September and October resulted in this new estimate, which we have incorporated in Figure 1. BLS monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors. For more information, see: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics November Employment Situation Report (12/3/2021).

Of the major fields of nonprofit activity that we track, religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations recovered the most jobs in November, gaining 2,809 workers, reducing the number of missing jobs in these institutions by 7.1%. This gain followed an overall loss of nearly 1,800 jobs in October. Social assistance organizations added nearly 1,500 workers during the month, reducing the number of jobs missing in this field by 2.6%. Nonprofit health care institutions, meanwhile, followed a strong month of job gains in October with a lackluster recovery of just 900 jobs in November, or just .5% of the October jobs deficit in this field. Nonprofit arts, entertainment, and recreational organizations added an estimated 800 jobs during the month, or 1.7% of the still-missing jobs in this field.

Educational institutions, on the other hand, suffered a marginal loss of approximately 1,600 jobs in November, increasing the percent of jobs missing in this this field by 1.3%. At the same time, the aggregate “other” fields category—embracing the small number of nonprofit workers in a diverse array of 9 primarily for-profit fields such as retail trade, accommodation and food services, construction, and transportation and warehousing—added over 1,800 jobs during November, bringing overall nonprofit employment in these fields approximately 1,000 workers above estimated pre-pandemic numbers.

PART 2 | Tracking the recovery of nonprofit jobs from from initial estimates of pandemic reductions

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. nonprofit institutions accounted for at least 12.5 million total jobs. As reported in our 2020 Nonprofit Employment Report, during the first three months of the pandemic (i.e., March, April, and May 2020), nonprofits lost a conservatively estimated 1.64 million of those jobs, reducing the nonprofit workforce by 13.2% as of May 2020. This section examines the progress made by nonprofits in recovering those lost jobs over the ensuing months.2To estimate nonprofit job losses, we began with the latest available Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data on nonprofit employment by field, which cover 2017, and calculated the nonprofit shares of total private employment by field as of this date. We then applied these shares to the monthly changes from pre-COVID (i.e., February 2020) levels in private employment by field as reported in the monthly BLS Employment Situation Reports to derive our estimates of monthly changes in nonprofit employment by field, such as those reflected in Figures 1 and 3 of this report. For more on these estimates, see: Salamon & Newhouse, “The 2020 Nonprofit Employment Report,” Nonprofit Economic Data Bulletin no. 48, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, June 2020).

As shown in Figure 2, in June, July, and August 2020 40.6% of these initial 1.64 million lost nonprofit jobs were recovered. Beginning in September 2020, however, this recovery slowed significantly, with the months of September 2020-February 2021 seeing a combined recovery of just 4.2% of the initial lost jobs overall. A stronger recovery trend began in March 2021, with March through August seeing a combined recovery of 22.3% of initial estimated job losses. The Fall of 2021 ushered in a period of more uneven job growth, with 3.1% of initial job losses recovered during September and October. November continued this uneven trend, with a recovery of just 0.3% during the month based on preliminarily data. Thus, over the full recovery period (i.e., June 2020-November 2021), nonprofits have recovered approximately 70.5% of the jobs lost as of May 2020.

As also shown in Figure 2, all but one major field of nonprofit activity recorded a positive recovery during November 2021. Among the major fields of nonprofit activity, the largest recovery was in religious, grantmaking, civil, and professional associations, which regained nearly 2% of their initial job losses during the month. Nonprofits operating in social assistance, arts, entertainment, and recreation, and health care, all saw small—but still positive—recoveries of 0.6%, 0.4%, and 0.2% respectively.

The sole exception was nonprofit educational institutions, which experienced fresh losses, setting the jobs recovery in this field back by 0.5% in November (choose a field from the drop-down menu to see field-level data).

Over the full recovery period from June 2020 through November 2021, educational institutions have thus recovered approximately 61% of the estimated 323,000 jobs lost as of May 2020; health care institutions have recovered 64% of their estimated 547,500 early job losses; social assistance organizations have recovered 78% of their initial estimated 259,000 job losses; arts, entertainment, and recreational institutions recovered approximately 77.6% of the initial 206,000 jobs lost; and religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations have recovered 75% of their estimated 147,000 job losses

As shown in Figure 3, the nonprofit workforce as of November 2021 is estimated to be approximately 485,000 jobs—or 3.9%—smaller vs. its estimated pre-pandemic level. These missing jobs included 13% of pre-pandemic workers in nonprofit arts and entertainment organizations; 6.3% of those in education; 4.5% of workers in religious, grantmaking, and civic associations; and 3.7% of workers in nonprofit social service institutions.

Of particular note, while the overall nonprofit health care workforce remained down by over 196,000 estimated jobs, or 2.9% of the pre-pandemic workforce, 145,500—or or nearly three-quarters of these missing jobs of these missing jobs—were identified as being in nursing and residential care facilities.

PART 3 | Months to recovery at recent rates

Following the process developed for our June 2021 report, we have updated our estimates of the likely time to full recovery of nonprofit employment back to pre-pandemic levels. To do so, we assumed that the average rate of nonprofit job recovery from January through November 2021 will prevail moving forward. With an estimated 485,190 nonprofit jobs still lost as of the end of November, and an average of 43,252 nonprofit jobs recovered per month over this period, this suggests it would take the sector 11.2 months to return to its pre-COVID level of employment, as shown in Figure 4. This estimate represents a modest increase over our October prediction of 10.5 months.

Also shown in Figure 4 are the projected times to full recovery of nonprofit employment in the various fields of nonprofit activity using the same approach.3Note that the aggregate “other fields” category has now recovered all jobs estimated to have been lost as of May 2020 and has therefore been removed from this figure. However, as reflected in the figure, we are unable to estimate a time-to-full-recovery for the health care field, which has seen an an average of just 2,400 jobs recovered per month over this period, largely due to continued losses in the nursing and residential care field. As such, we have no reliable basis for estimating its future recovery.


While nonprofits were able to recover a marginal number of jobs in November 2021, the increasing uncertainty of the near-term course of the COVID-19 pandemic occasioned by the emergence of the Omicron variant, coupled with the uneven recovery recorded over the Fall months, makes the future recovery the of nonprofit workforce more difficult to predict as we enter into the holiday season.


Chelsea Newhouse

View posts by Chelsea Newhouse
Chelsea Newhouse served as the Center's Communications Manager and managed the Nonprofit Economic Data and Philanthropication thru Privatization Projects. Prior to joining the Center in 2008, she worked for the Johns Hopkins University Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics, the Baltimore Sun, and as a community organizer for Clean Water Action and the Democratic National Committee. She holds a degree in Philosophy from the University of Virginia. Following the Center's closing, Chelsea now serves as Project Manager at the East-West Management Institute, where she continues to work on the Philanthropication thru Privatization Project and other civil society development initiatives around the world. Chelsea can be reached at