Volunteer Participation in United States Lowest in Over a Decade

By Ali Meyer | March 6, 2015 | 12:54pm EST

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(CNSNews.com) - The percentage of the population who has volunteered through or for an organization at least once is the lowest it has been in over a decade at 25.3 percent in the United States between September 2013 and September 2014, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

“Volunteers are defined as persons who did unpaid work (except for expenses) through or for an organization,” explained BLS.

“The reference period for the questions on volunteering was about 1 year, from September 1, 2013, through the survey reference week in September 2014,” it said.

“The volunteer rate was little changed at 25.3 percent for the year ending in September 2014,” stated BLS. “About 62.8 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2013 and September 2014. The volunteer rate in 2013 was 25.4 percent.”

In 2002, when the BLS began tracking this data, the volunteer rate was 27.4 percent. Since then, it hit its peak in years 2003, 2004 and 2005, when it hit 28.8 percent. The volunteer rate has declined since then, hitting a record low in 2014 of 25.3 percent.

“By age, 35- to 44-year-olds were most likely to volunteer (29.8 percent),” stated BLS. “Volunteer rates were lowest among 20- to 24-year-olds (18.7 percent). For persons 45 years and over, the volunteer rate tapered off as age increased. Teenagers (16- to 19-year-olds) had a volunteer rate of 26.1 percent.”

Those who are employed volunteer more than the unemployed and those not in the labor force, which are those persons who do not have a job and have not looked for one in the past four weeks.

“During the year ending in September 2014, 27.5 percent of employed persons volunteered,” BLS stated. “By comparison, 24.0 percent of unemployed persons and 21.8 percent of those not in the labor force volunteered. Among the employed, part-time workers were more likely than full-time workers to have participated in volunteer activities - 31.7 percent, compared with 26.5 percent.”

“For all levels of educational attainment, volunteers were most likely to volunteer for religious organizations, followed by educational or youth service organizations,” stated BLS.

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