The January job numbers seem to confirm the view of many that the U.S. economy, while still battling headwinds, is picking up steam. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 243,000 nonfarm payroll jobs were created in January, with large gains in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing.
The BLS also reported that the national unemployment rate dipped .2 percentage points, to 8.3%, the lowest level since February 2009.
(Chart courtesy CNNMoney)
Here at PND, the number of nonprofit jobs submitted to the PND job board -- our own, completely unscientific gauge of the economy's health -- seems to confirm that the economic recovery is on track and that nonprofits, in general, are feeling more confident about their situation.
Things were looking much less rosy in September, when we last checked. Back then, the federal government was smarting from the first-ever downgrade of its AAA credit rating, Congress and the White House, having danced the country to the brink of default, were elevating finger pointing to a new art form, and the debt crisis in the Eurozone was growing worse by the day. Investors responded by doing what they always do in times of uncertainty, fleeing stocks for the safety of U.S. treasuries.
Nonprofits, in contrast, took a look around and seemed to decide the situation was not as bad as the headlines would have it. On a year-over-year basis, job postings here at PND were flat in September and October, down in November, and up smartly in December and January. (And we're seeing a continuation of that trend in February.) For the year, job postings to the board were up 2 percent over 2010 and 36 percent over 2009 (though still well below the number posted in 2007).
Indeed, as we noted in a PND item last month, a recent study (18 pages, PDF) from the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University found that during the Great Recession (2007 to 2009), the nonprofit sector gained jobs at an average rate of 1.9 percent a year, while the private sector lost jobs at a rate of 3.7 percent. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that, after retail and manufacturing, the nonprofit sector in the U.S. now employs more workers than any other industry, with the vast majority of those jobs concentrated in health care (57 percent), education (15 percent), and social assistance (13 percent).
We’re not sure whether this is an entirely good thing -- that's a subject for another post -- but we are hopeful the Europeans will get their act together and that the economy here in the U.S. will continue to gain strength. We’ll check back in in a few months and let you know how things are going.
In the meantime, feel free to share your own thoughts and obesrvations with respect to the employment situation, both in and outside the nonprofit sector. How are things in your neck of the woods? Are nonprofits hiring? What about the private sector? And where do you think things will stand six months from now?
-- The Editors