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Announcing new research data on jobs and pay in the nonprofit sector

Friday, October 17, 2014

Have you ever wondered how important the charitable nonprofit sector is to your regional economy or within some industry—and if it is adding jobs? BLS now has authoritative and detailed answers to your questions. I am delighted to announce a new research data series on employment and wages in the nonprofit sector of the U.S. economy. Annual data currently are available for 2007 through 2012. Here are a few facts about nonprofit organizations:

  • They employ a lot of people. Nonprofits accounted for 11.4 million jobs in 2012. That’s 10.3 percent of all private sector employment.
  • Nonprofit jobs are concentrated heavily in the healthcare and social assistance sector. This is the largest component of the nonprofit world, accounting for 68 percent of total nonprofit employment in 2012.
  • They’ve grown throughout the recession and recovery. Employment in nonprofit organizations increased steadily each year from 2007 through 2012.

What do we count as a nonprofit organization in these data? Under U.S. tax law, nonprofit organizations are exempt from paying federal income tax. Although there are several categories of nonprofits, the new BLS data are limited to the largest category, organizations covered under section 501(c)3 of the tax law. These nonprofits are commonly referred to as “charitable” organizations.

These new data are available at the national level for fairly detailed industries. Data for states are available for broad industry categories.

You may wonder how we did this. As with the hurricane maps that BLS published in June, the new research data on nonprofits required no new data collection or respondent burden. The data were created by merging existing BLS data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program with publicly available data from the Internal Revenue Service.

If policymakers, researchers, and the public find these data to be useful, BLS will consider updating them annually as resources permit.

So, please let us know what you think. I invite you to explore the nonprofit data and share your thoughts about the methods used to create the data, the published tables, and the overall usefulness of the information.