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May 18, 2022
Nonprofit Employment Climbing Back Slowly, Unevenly

April 5, 2022 — Total nonprofit employment in the country was down by 495,000 jobs at the end of 2021, compared to its level before the coronavirus pandemic took hold, and the sector will take an estimated 11 months to return to pre-COVID levels of employment, according to a newly published report.

On net, nonprofit jobs are recovering slowly, but the rate of recovery is uneven across subsectors, according to Independent Sector’s s Health of the U.S. Nonprofit Sector: Quarterly Review, down 3.7% as of December 2021, compared to February 2020.

Arts, entertainment, and recreation jobs posted the largest job loss—12.5%--for the same period, followed by a 5.6% decline in educational services jobs, a 4.0% decline for religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar jobs, and a 3.4% drop for social assistance jobs.

While nonprofit sector jobs recovered since February 2020, the pace of job recovery for nonprofits appeared to be slowing at the end of 2021, and “may take up to 11 more months to operate at its 2019 employment levels, despite continuing to play a major role in helping communities recover and thrive after the pandemic,” the report noted.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, the nonprofit sector workforce became less racially and ethnically diverse and the proportion of white workers (78%) remained higher than prior to the pandemic (approximately 70%), according to the report.

The proportion of nonprofit workers earning $40,000–$150,000 annually increased, while the proportion of low- and high-income nonprofit workers decreased, and income from nonprofit employment appears to remain ahead of overall workforce income, the report said.

Women gained as a proportion of the nonprofit workforce in the fourth quarter, reversing a downward trend for women in the nonprofit workforce that persisted since the onset of the pandemic, while the current proportion of female nonprofit workers is about the same as pre-pandemic levels, according to the report.

Charitable support of the sector indicate a mixed picture. According to the report, the number of donors giving to nonprofits fell 1.4% in the third sector of 2021, compared to the year before, while total dollars increased 1.4%. However, retention dropped 7.2%.

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