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Employment Statistics Every Nonprofit Manager Should Consider

Nonprofits fill many important civic roles in the world, from providing healthcare and other basic necessities to enriching society through education and cultural enlightenment.

Nearly all of us have benefited from a nonprofit organization, whether it was a hospital, school, church, museum, zoo, or nature conservancy.1 While we acknowledge their positive impact on our communities, we don’t necessarily realize how nonprofits contribute to our economy. They make a bigger impact than many of us know.


If you work in nonprofit management, you should be aware that nonprofits are keeping pace with for-profits in a number of ways. Consider these encouraging statistics compiled by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies (JHCCSS):2

1. Nonprofit employees are the country’s third-largest workforce sector. In 2017, the nonprofit sector employed 12,488,563 individuals—with more jobs than manufacturing, construction, or finance and insurance. Only the retail trade and accommodation and food service sectors employed more.

2. Nonprofits make up 71% of U.S. private employment in education. This includes 91.6% of private employment in elementary and secondary education, and 84.3% of private employment in higher education.

3. Nonprofits make up 66% of all hospital employment and 84% of private hospital employment. When all health services—including ambulatory care, nursing homes, and hospitals—are considered, nonprofits make up 43% of private employment.

4. Nonprofits generate the country’s third-largest payroll income. Only the manufacturing and professional and technical services sectors pay more in wages. With a payroll income of $670,218,053,000, the nonprofit sector pays more in wages than finance and insurance, the retail or wholesale trade, or construction.

5. Nonprofits pay higher wages in traditionally nonprofit fields compared to their for-profit counterparts. This is primarily true in fields where nonprofit and for-profit organizations are more competitive, such as healthcare, social services, and education. For example, wages paid by nonprofit educational institutions, on average, are 50% higher than those paid by for-profit educational institutions. In individual and family services and home healthcare, nonprofit wages were over 70% higher than for-profit wages. And wages paid by nonprofit social assistance organizations were 56% higher than wages paid by similar for-profit organizations.

6. Between 2007 and 2017, overall nonprofit job growth increased threefold over for-profit employment. While nonprofit jobs grew by 18.6% during that period, for-profits saw only 6.2% job growth.

However, other statistics from the JHCCSS report reveal that nonprofits have also faced significant challenges since 2007, from shrinking market shares to recent COVID-19–related layoffs.

1. Between 2007 and 2017, for-profit employment grew faster than nonprofit employment in some of the fields traditionally dominated by nonprofits. Compare these employment growth rates:

  • Nursing homes: for-profit (19.6%) vs. nonprofit (2.6%)
  • Hospitals: for-profit (24.3%) vs. nonprofit (10.4%)
  • Educational services: for-profit (29.2%) vs. nonprofit (21.5%)
  • Social assistance: for-profit (123.8%) vs. nonprofit (18.2%)

2. Between March and May 2020, an estimated 13% of all nonprofit jobs (1.6 million employees) were cut due to the coronavirus. In most industries where nonprofits are active, nonprofit organizations lost more jobs, proportionally, than for-profits did. Private nonprofit job cuts made up:

  • 41% of all social assistance service layoffs
  • 43% of all healthcare layoffs
  • 57% of all performing arts layoffs
  • 60% of all religious, civic, and other professional organization layoffs
  • 71% of all private educational service layoffs
  • 87% of all museum layoffs

Nonprofits are vital to our communities, and good management is essential for nonprofit organizations to succeed. If you are not yet a nonprofit manager but are considering that career path, an MS in Nonprofit Management degree will give you the leadership skills you need to enter the field. Many online graduate degree programs are designed so that working professionals like you can tailor your coursework to fit your busy schedule.

Walden University offers an MS in Nonprofit Management and Leadership program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,