Law and Politics

Non-Profits – An Expanding Workforce Providing Critical Services

October 15, 2012
By John Magisano

In the United States, there are approximately 1.6 million nonprofit organizations. Together, they employ 11.1% of the American workforce in both full-time paid and volunteer positions, and their wages make up 6.6% of our entire economy (Saloman and Sokolowski, 2006). 

At nearly 11 million workers, nonprofit organizations employ the third largest workforce among U.S. industries, behind only retail trade and manufacturing (Nonprofit Data Project, Johns Hopkins Univ. Center for Civil Society Studies, 2012).

In New York City, the nonprofit health care and social service sector is the largest private sector employer, followed only government employment numerically.  In addition, the sector has added jobs in the last decade, while

government and for-profit employment has continued to shrink.  For example, in the Bronx, nearly 40 percent of all private sector jobs are in the nonprofit health and social services industries. (Fiscal Policy Institute, 2012).

Many of the workers in larger institutions (hospitals, some multi-service organizations, e.g.) are unionized, while the employees of the smaller nonprofit organizations are not.  However, all workers have common concerns as wages, benefits and the need for occupational safety enforcement.  Major parts of the nonprofit sector are focused on providing healthcare, reducing poverty, encouraging sustainable community development and maintaining the social safety net.  Many faith-based and community organizations are also concerned with the importance of raising the minimum wage and the need for a living wage.

In this era of seemingly unending cuts to government funding and services, the nonprofit sector and the labor movement share the goals of providing quality services to those most in need.
John Magisano is a consultant to nonprofit and community-based organizations, assisting them with fundraising, strategic planning and program design.  Information on his firm, John Magisano Consulting, is available on his website,  He can be reached at .

October 14, 2012

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