Indiana Nonprofit Employment:
Trends in Social Assistance, 1995-2009

Nonprofit Employment Report #6
August 2012
Kirsten A. Grønbjerg, Project Director
Kellie L. McGiverin-Bohan, Alexandra Buck, Kristen Dmytryk,
Katherine Gagnon, Weston Merrick and Katherine Novakoski

A Joint Product of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies

Click to read the press release for this study, a short summary or the full report. Note: the full report is a large file (5 MB) and you will need a free copy of Adobe Reader program to read the documents.


Nonprofit organizations make significant contributions to the quality of life for the residents of Indiana by offering social assistance, access to arts and culture, health care, education, and opportunities for civic engagement. They are also a major force in the state’s economy and in the economic health of all regions of the state.

This report presents new information on the size, composition, and distribution of paid nonprofit employment in Indiana’s social assistance industry. The sixth report in a series of statewide employment analyses, it focuses on trends in nonprofit social assistance employment from 1995 through 2009. Data over this time period give us insights into how recessions and economic growth periods impact private nonprofit employment in this industry. 

Key Findings

Our report provides detailed analysis of major changes in nonprofit employment and wages in the social assistance industry from 1995 through 2009 with comparisons to corresponding trends in for-profit social assistance establishments (there are too few government employees to provide separate analyses for this group). Our analysis also includes trends in major social assistance sub-industries: vocational rehabilitation services; individual and family services; child day care services; and community housing, food and other relief services.

Overall Social Assistance Employment

  • Nonprofit employment in social assistance increased faster than employment in most other major nonprofit industries. From 1995 to 2009, total nonprofit employment in social assistance grew by 44 percent. Only nonprofit employment in education grew faster (50 percent), while nonprofit employment in health care grew 35 percent.
  • For-profit employment in social assistance grew much faster than nonprofit employment. From 1995 to 2009 for-profit employment more than doubled (from 8,200 to 16,600 employees) and increased its total share of the industry from 30 to 38 percent. This may reflect increasingly large contracts between the state and for-profit service providers during the latter part of the period.
  • The number of social assistance establishments increased nearly 30 percent over the 1995-2009 period, but total employment in the industry grew even faster and the average size of establishments grew from 22 to 24.
  • Over the 1995 to 2009 period, social assistance employment, establishments, and payroll grew steadily, even during recessions and in contrast to other similarly sized industries.

Vocational Rehabilitation Services

  • Nonprofit employment in vocational rehabilitation services increased by 48 percent between 1995 and 2009, from about 7,700 to 11,400 employees. Employment in for-profit vocational rehabilitation services increased even more (by 120 percent), but from a much smaller base (about 900 in 1995 to 2,000 in 2009).
  • Average wages of nonprofit vocational rehabilitation workers decreased 5 percent (adjusted for inflation) from $22,200 in 1995 to $21,100 in 2009. Over the same period, average annual for-profit wages increased over 26 percent from $18,900 to $24,000.

Individual and Family Services

  • Nonprofit employment in individual and family services increased over 50 percent from 6,600 in 1995 to 10,100 in 2009. However, growth in the for-profit sector far outpaced nonprofit growth, increasing by 600 percent from just under 1,000 employees in 1995 to 6,900 by 2009.
  • Average annual wages in nonprofit individual and family services organizations increased 25 percent from $20,500 in 1995 to over $25,300 in 2009 (in constant dollars). For-profit wages decreased steadily by 7 percent over the same period.

Child Day Care Services

  • From 1995 through 2009, the nonprofit sector founded more child care service establishments (up 43 percent) than the for-profit sector (up 6 percent). Even so, the number of for-profit establishments outnumbered nonprofits roughly five to two.
  • Child day care services had the lowest wages of all four sub-industries. Average annual wages were highest between 2001 and 2003 ($18,400). For-profit wages peaked in 2004 around $15,400. The low wages may reflect the presence of many part-time employees in this industry.

Community Housing, Food, and Other Relief Services

  • Nonprofit employees accounted for 65 percent of private sector employment in relief services in 1995 and increased to 85 percent by 2009. The increasing dominance of nonprofit employment in this sub-industry runs contrary to the trend of increasing shares of for-profit employment in the overall social assistance industry during this period.
  • Nonprofit relief service workers outnumbered their for-profit counterparts and received lower average annual wages than those in the for-profit sector. Nonprofit average annual wages peaked at $24,500 in 2002. For-profit wages averaged $28,000 and peaked at $31,200 in 2009.


The report draws on data generated by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development through surveys of Indiana workplaces carried out under the national Covered Employment and Wages (CEW) labor market information program administered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of the unemployment insurance program. These data, compiled from quarterly reports submitted by employers in compliance with U.S. and Indiana law, were prepared for us by the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business under a confidentiality agreement with the state.

For information about the methodology used in this report and for additional tables, please see the Appendices at the bottom of this page. Reports on nonprofit employment for other states are available at Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University.


Our report includes several appendices with supplementary information. They include:

  • Appendix A: The ES-202 Unemployment Insurance Labor Market Information Program - Sources of data, scope of coverage, and data processing and cleaning.
  • Appendix B: Data Tables - Nonprofit employment and wages in social assistance and social assistance subindustries.
  • Appendix C: Project Publications and Reports


This report was prepared as part of an ongoing project from the Indiana Nonprofits: Scope and Community Dimensions project made possible by the Efroymson Fund at the Indianapolis Foundation (an affiliate of the Central Indiana Community Foundation) through its support for the Efroymson Chair in Philanthropy; the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy through its Indiana Research Fund (supported in part by Lilly Endowment Inc.) and its ongoing support for the Efroymson Chair in Philanthropy; and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University through its ongoing support for the Efroymson Chair in Philanthropy.

We are grateful to Carol O. Rogers, Victoria Nelson, and Jerry Conover at the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business for making the data on which this report is based available to us and for very helpful comments on the draft. We also thank Kerry S. Brock for her help in preparing the basic framework for our analysis. Finally, we thank members of the Advisory Board for the Indiana Nonprofit Sector: Scope and Community Dimensions project for helpful comments and suggestions.