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Business Employment Dynamics

Research Data on the Nonprofit Sector

  • Research data on employment and wages for the nonprofit sector for 2017 are now available by firm size. These data are available in the table below.
Nonprofit size class data, 2017 U.S. totals
Size ClassFirms (1)(2)EmploymentTotal Wages
(in thousands)

Fewer than 5 employees


5 - 9 employees


10 - 19 employees


20 - 49 employees


50 - 99 employees


100 - 249 employees


250 - 499 employees


500 - 999 employees


1,000+ employees




(1) Excludes PR and VI; wages in 2017 dollars.
(2) A firm is an economic unit that may consist of multiple establishments.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has updated research data on employment and wages for the nonprofit sector for 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017. These figures provide insight into this important segment of the U.S. economy. Data for 2016 were released in August of 2018 and made possible through the support of the Johns Hopkins University and its Center for Civil Society Studies with grant funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

The 2013-2017 data have been expanded to include finer geographic and industrial detail.

The format of the data files have been updated in an effort to deliver the data in a more convenient and efficient manner.

Nonprofit Data Files

  • 2017 Annual Averages (XLSX)
  • 2016 Annual Averages (XLSX)
  • 2015 Annual Averages (XLSX)
  • 2014 Annual Averages (XLSX)
  • 2013 Annual Averages (XLSX)


Comments on these data and underlying methodology can be submitted to the Business Employment Dynamics (BED) information line.


BLS continues to receive requests for cross-sections of the nonprofit sector.  In the past, researchers have developed such measures using the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) for this work. In 2014 BLS released annual averages for the nonprofit sector as a research series for 2007 through 2012. The 2016 update was made possible with the support of the Johns Hopkins University and its Center for Civil Society Studies with grant funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will this be a regularly produced data product?

  • At present, the QCEW program is releasing these nonprofit data on a research basis.   Future releases will be based upon continued demand for the data and availability of resources.

When will the next updated version of these data be released?

  • There is currently no established date for an update.

What about other nonprofit classifications (e.g. 501(c)(4))?

  • At this time the QCEW program does not plan to publish other nonprofit classifications.

Where can I find the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) nonprofit datasets?

  • The IRS nonprofit data can be obtained from the Exempt Organizations Business Master File (EOBMF) extract website.

Who can I contact if I have questions about the data?

  • If you have any questions regarding the data or methodology please don't hesitate to reach-out to the BED information line.



This project is limited to measuring the number of private sector establishments, employment, and wages for a portion of the nonprofit sector known as 501(c)(3)s. While there are other nonprofit classifications, such as 501(c)(4), this research series highlights employment and wages under the 501(c)(3) classification.

Data Sources

The development of these research series utilizes two existing data sources: the QCEW and IRS Exempt Organization Business Master File.

  1. The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages: Every business with an Unemployment Insurance (UI) covered employee is required to report monthly employment and quarterly wages and unemployment insurance contributions each quarter. These data are mandated by state law, thus ensuring very high rates of coverage and reporting. For a more complete description of the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program, please see the QCEW chapter of the BLS Handbook of Methods or visit the QCEW homepage.

Under state UI laws, some establishments are not required to pay unemployment insurance contributions each quarter, but rather are allowed to reimburse the unemployment insurance system when a claim is made. These establishments are termed "reimbursables" and most states restrict such units to 501(c)(3) nonprofit establishments. The QCEW micro data include information on these reimbursables. In cases where reimbursables are not restricted solely to 501(c)(3)s, QCEW worked with state partners to remove establishments (such as 501(c)(4)s) where necessary.

  1. The Internal Revenue Service Exempt Organization Business Master File (EOBMF): Businesses wishing to obtain recognition of tax-exempt status by the IRS must submit a request to the IRS on Form 1023, Form 1023-EZ or Form 1024. Information collected on these forms includes, but is not limited to, the Employer Identification Number (EIN), primary name of the organization, address, a subsection code stipulating the type of tax exempt status, asset and income figures and a description of the organization's activities.

Information on nonprofits is publicly available from the IRS. The data collected through the 990 and 990-EZ forms are published through the IRS?s Exempt Organizations Business Master File extract website.

The EOBMF is a large cumulative dataset that is updated monthly. The file BLS used to construct the updated 2016 research data series was downloaded in April 2017 from the Statistics of Income website and contained approximately 1.62 million records. Once an organization is granted tax exempt status, this status is valid for the life of the organization as long as it complies with the provisions of its exemption.

Matching Process

These research data were created using a two-step process that is described below. Each step included a quality control review.

Step 1: Employer Identification Number Match between the QCEW and the EOBMF

First, the EOBMF was restricted to include only those records identified as 501(c)(3)s. The match was then initiated by comparing that subset of IRS nonprofit EINs to the QCEW database. When a match was obtained, all private sector establishments associated with the matched EIN were placed into a preliminary ?nonprofit dataset.? Only active establishments were retained; any establishment identified as pending or inactive was removed.

QCEW staff then examined all matched records looking for anomalies and outliers. Staff compared a business?s name, address and functionality between the IRS and QCEW datasets. When necessary, and where available, staff reviewed an organization?s website to obtain further information to assist with matching the two datasets and minimize instances of false-matches.

State Workforce Agency staff then reviewed a portion of the IRS-QCEW matched record file. Any record identified as an incorrect match was added to the false match dataset and removed from the tabulations. Ongoing matching will utilize the false match dataset for future exclusion.

Note: False matches may occur for a variety of reasons. It is well-known that businesses can have several or many EINs and may use one of the EINs for various purposes, not always using the same EINs consistently. Data entry errors may also be a source of false matches.

Step 2: Include Reimbursable Units not on the IRS File

Some of the records matched in the first step from the IRS dataset to the QCEW were reimbursables. However, for various reasons, not all reimbursable organizations file with the IRS and, as a result, are not listed on the EOBMF.

To include these missing organizations, all active private sector establishments in the QCEW database with a reimbursable flag were placed in a separate file. Records already matched in Step 1 were removed. The resulting file consisted of non-matched reimbursables. Establishments located in states that already confirmed that a reimbursable flag exclusively designated a 501(c)(3) organization were retained as in-scope nonprofits. QCEW sent the remaining reimbursables to the respective states whose reimbursable flag could include other nonprofits (such as 501(c)(4)s) for adjudication. State staff reviewed these establishments and made the determination (based on establishment names, addresses and other information) whether each business should be included as a 501(c)(3) or excluded.

Data Elements Available

Nonprofit data for 2013-2017 are available at the national total private, NAICS 2-digit and 3-digit industry level as well as select 4-digit level. State level data are available at the total private, NAICS 2-digit level, and select 3 and 4-digit industry levels, and totals and select industries at selected levels for counties where BLS nondisclosure requirements are satisfied. Annual figures for 2007 through 2012 are available as research series.  Each series is available as an Excel file (below). Each year of data includes the following elements:

  • Annual Average Number of Establishments
  • Annual Average Employment
  • Total Annual Wages
  • Average Wages per Employee
  • Average Weekly Wage per Employee

These data are the result of a research project and may be updated periodically, as resources permit. They are not an official BLS published series.

Tables for state-level data include Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, these two territories are not included in U.S. Totals.

Prior Year Data Files

National NAICS 2-digit and 3-digit Industry Data

  • 2012 annual averages (XLSX)
  • 2011 annual averages (XLSX)
  • 2010 annual averages (XLSX)
  • 2009 annual averages (XLSX)
  • 2008 annual averages (XLSX)
  • 2007 annual averages (XLSX)

State NAICS 2-digit Industry Data

  • 2012 annual averages (XLSX)
  • 2011 annual averages (XLSX)
  • 2010 annual averages (XLSX)
  • 2009 annual averages (XLSX)
  • 2008 annual averages (XLSX)
  • 2007 annual averages (XLSX)


Last Modified Date: May 14, 2020