Study: Nonprofits lost 50,000 jobs last month from virus

After months of slow but steady job growth, America’s nonprofit organizations shed more than 50,000 positions in December, a consequence of the economic damage caused by the viral pandemic.

That finding, in a report from Johns Hopkins University, suggests that it could take nearly 18 months for nonprofits to regain their pre-pandemic employment levels. And that assumes the virus will be successfully contained.

Johns Hopkins found that nonprofits employed nearly 930,000 fewer workers last month than they did last February, shortly before the coronavirus erupted in the United States.

Hiring at nonprofits had been generally improving through the summer and fall. But the escalation of the virus beginning in November with the onset of colder weather has intensified the pressures on nonprofits.

The Johns Hopkins report asserted that the failure of some Americans to take proper safety precautions against infection has played a significant role in the job losses.

“The failure of so many of our citizens to adhere to the COVID prevention guidelines has not only contributed to a dramatic rise of COVID cases and deaths in our country, it has also led to a resumption of job losses in the nonprofit sector as in the economy as a whole,” according to the report, produced by researchers at Hopkins’ Center for Civil Society Studies.

“How long this downturn will persist is far from clear at this writing, but continued nonprofit job losses over the next couple of months are not out of the question.”

Nonprofits involved in arts, entertainment and recreation have suffered the most on a percentage basis. That category has lost more than 130,000 jobs, about 37 percent of its pre-pandemic employment level.

Nonprofits involved in educational services, a much larger category, have lost roughly 15 percent of their employment but the most number of jobs — roughly 300,000.

The Center for Civil Society Studies has been calculating job losses at nonprofits since June. Federal data doesn’t break down employment numbers for nonprofits versus other employers. The researchers calculated their estimates by assuming that nonprofit job losses were proportional to the share of nonprofit jobs in each industry.

This article was provided to The Associated Press by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Michael Theis is a writer at the Chronicle. Email: The AP and the Chronicle receive support from the Lilly Endowment for coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits. The AP and the Chronicle are solely responsible for all content.