Nonprofits Are Among the Fastest-Growing Sources of New Jobs

In Jobs, KC News by EDCKC Staff

Since the year 2000, the United States has experienced two recessions, one of which spanned two years. Though technically, we’re in a period of economic recovery right now, there has been a lot of talk about the state of the economy, and especially about job growth, job creators, and the best ways to promote new jobs in America. During all of this, one of the most stable and fastest-growing sources of new jobs has been the nonprofit sector.

Nonprofits employ the third-largest labor force in America, just behind retail and manufacturing, and account for almost 10% of all wages and salaries paid in the United States each year. Those jobs are spread across almost 1.5 million nonprofit organizations, including over 900,000 public charities. Nonprofit organizations serve all kinds of needs, from the Humane Society to the Girl Scouts, and from Habitat for Humanity to the YMCA. Nonprofits include churches, clinics, education centers, charities, outreach programs, animal rescue operations, and countless others. They employ people from all walks of life, in all kinds of positions. In addition to social workers, nonprofits hire cooks and carpenters, advertisers and artists, managers, accountants, computer programmers, HR representatives, educators, lawyers, doctors, nurses, and just about every other career you can imagine.

There are hundreds of nonprofits in the Kansas City area, including hospitals like St. Luke’s and Children’s Mercy, and Unbound, formerly the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, which was ranked one of Forbes Magazine’s 200 Largest U.S. Charities. Kansas City is also the home of Nonprofit Connect, an organization that helps nonprofits achieve their missions through networking, resources, and education.

Nonprofits were one of the only sectors that continued to experience positive job growth during what was dubbed the “Decade of Turmoil” from 2000 to 2010, during which they consistently outpaced the for-profit sector. Nonprofits added jobs at an average rate of 2.1% per year, while employment in for-profit enterprises fell an average of 0.6% per year. Even at the height of the Great Recession from 2007 through 2009, nonprofit organizations added jobs at an average rate of 1.9% per year, while the private sector lost jobs at a rate of 3.7%.

Nonprofit organizations boast several advantages when it comes to job growth during hard economic times. Because many nonprofits are designed to meet the needs of the underserved, hard times can mean an increased need for the services that nonprofits provide. As the needs of the community grow, nonprofits grow with them in order to keep up with demand. In addition, since the government has scaled back some of their social services, many services previously provided by the government are now the provenance of nonprofit organizations.

Meanwhile, the population of older Americans continues to grow.  The 2010 Census showed the largest number of people age 65 and older in American history with individuals age 85 and up comprising the fastest-growing segment of the United States population. These older Americans require increased care, especially in times of economic hardship, and nonprofit organizations have responded to these needs.

Nonprofit organizations are often staffed and run by passionate, dedicated people who really care about the causes they’re supporting. This leads to innovations in business practices, creative cultures, and responsible entrepreneurship, which is a key factor in helping nonprofits remain strong when other businesses might falter.




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