Economic News Release

Volunteering in the United States, 2013

For release 10:00 a.m. (EST) Tuesday, February 25, 2014                        USDL-14-0314

Technical information:  (202) 691-6378  •  cpsinfo@bls.gov  •  www.bls.gov/cps
Media contact:          (202) 691-5902  •  PressOffice@bls.gov


                        VOLUNTEERING IN THE UNITED STATES -- 2013


The volunteer rate declined by 1.1 percentage points to 25.4 percent for the year ending
in September 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. About 62.6 million
people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2012
and September 2013. The volunteer rate in 2013 was the lowest it has been since the
supplement was first administered in 2002.

These data on volunteering were collected through a supplement to the September 2013
Current Population Survey (CPS). The supplement was sponsored by the Corporation for
National and Community Service. The CPS is a monthly survey of about 60,000 households
that obtains information on employment and unemployment for the nation's civilian
noninstitutional population age 16 and over. Volunteers are defined as persons who did
unpaid work (except for expenses) through or for an organization. For more information
about the volunteer supplement, see the Technical Note.

Volunteering Among Demographic Groups

The volunteer rates for both men and women (22.2 percent and 28.4 percent, respectively)
declined the year ending in September 2013. Women continued to volunteer at a higher rate
than did men across all age groups, educational levels, and other major demographic
characteristics. (See tables A and 1.)

By age, 35- to 44-year-olds were most likely to volunteer (30.6 percent). Volunteer rates
were lowest among 20- to 24-year-olds (18.5 percent). For persons 45 years and over, the
volunteer rate tapered off as age increased. Teens (16- to 19-year-olds) had a volunteer
rate of 26.2 percent.

Among the major race and ethnicity groups, whites continued to volunteer at a higher rate
(27.1 percent) than did blacks (18.5 percent), Asians (19.0 percent), and Hispanics 
(15.5 percent). Of these groups, the volunteer rate fell for whites (by 0.7 percentage
point) and blacks (by 2.6 percentage points) in 2013. The volunteer rates for Asians and
Hispanics were little changed.

Married persons volunteered at a higher rate (30.7 percent) in 2013 than did those who had
never married (20.0 percent) and those with other marital statuses (20.5 percent). The
rates declined over the year for each marital status category. In 2013, the volunteer rate
of parents with children under age 18 (32.9 percent) remained higher than the rate for
persons without children (22.7 percent). The volunteer rate of persons without children
under age 18 declined over the year, while the rate for parents was little changed.

Individuals with higher levels of education engaged in volunteer activities at higher rates
than did those with less education in 2013. Among persons age 25 and over, 39.8 percent of
college graduates volunteered, compared with 27.7 percent of persons with some college or
an associate’s degree, 16.7 percent of high school graduates, and 9.0 percent of those with
less than a high school diploma. The rate of volunteering was about unchanged for people
with less than a high school diploma, while the rate declined for persons in all other
educational attainment categories.

Volunteers by Employment Status

Among employed persons, 27.7 percent volunteered during the year ending in September 2013.
By comparison, 24.1 percent of unemployed persons and 21.9 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 26.8 percent. The volunteer rate was little changed among unemployed persons but
declined for the employed and those not in the labor force. (See table 1.)


Table A.  Volunteers by selected characteristics, September 2009 through September 2013

                       September     September     September     September     September 
                         2009          2010          2011          2012          2013    
                                                                                         
  Characteristics            Per-          Per-          Per-          Per-          Per-
                             cent          cent          cent          cent          cent
                              of            of            of            of            of 
                     Number  pop-  Number  pop-  Number  pop-  Number  pop-  Number  pop-
                             ula-          ula-          ula-          ula-          ula-
                             tion          tion          tion          tion          tion
                                                                                         
           Sex                                                                           
                                                                                         
Total, both sexes... 63,361  26.8  62,790  26.3  64,252  26.8  64,513  26.5  62,615  25.4
 Men................ 26,655  23.3  26,787  23.2  27,354  23.5  27,238  23.2  26,404  22.2
 Women ............. 36,706  30.1  36,004  29.3  36,898  29.9  37,274  29.5  36,211  28.4
                                                                                         
           Age                                                                           
                                                                                         
Total, 16 years
 and over........... 63,361  26.8  62,790  26.3  64,252  26.8  64,513  26.5  62,615  25.4
 16 to 24 years.....  8,290  22.0   8,297  21.9   8,578  22.5   8,776  22.6   8,466  21.8
 25 to 34 years.....  9,511  23.5   9,140  22.3   9,691  23.3   9,513  23.2   9,118  21.9
 35 to 44 years..... 12,835  31.5  12,904  32.2  12,566  31.8  12,527  31.6  12,098  30.6
 45 to 54 years..... 13,703  30.8  13,435  30.3  13,420  30.6  12,777  29.3  12,184  28.2
 55 to 64 years.....  9,894  28.3   9,830  27.2  10,449  28.1  10,619  27.6  10,191  26.0
 65 years and over..  9,129  23.9   9,184  23.6   9,547  24.0  10,301  24.4  10,558  24.1
                                                                                         
  Race and Hispanic                                                                      
 or Latino ethnicity                                                                     
                                                                                         
White............... 54,078  28.3  53,556  27.8  54,432  28.2  53,778  27.8  52,685  27.1
Black or African                                                                         
 American...........  5,712  20.2   5,580  19.4   5,934  20.3   6,316  21.1   5,637  18.5
Asian...............  2,060  19.0   2,207  19.6   2,304  20.0   2,524  19.6   2,525  19.0
Hispanic or Latino                                                                       
 ethnicity..........  4,873  14.7   4,982  14.7   5,151  14.9   5,635  15.2   5,838  15.5
                                                                                         
   Educational                                                                           
  attainment (1)                                                                         
                                                                                         
Less than a high                                                                         
 school diploma.....  2,242   8.6   2,231   8.8   2,461   9.8   2,177   8.8   2,204   9.0
High school                                                                              
 graduates, no                                                                           
 college (2)........ 11,408  18.8  10,887  17.9  11,049  18.2  10,527  17.3  10,138  16.7
Some college or                                                                          
 associate degree... 15,931  30.5   5,505  29.2  15,946  29.5  15,832  28.7  15,562  27.7
Bachelor's degree                                                                        
 and higher (3)..... 25,490  42.8  25,870  42.3  26,218  42.4  27,202  42.2  26,244  39.8
                                                                                         
  Employment status                                                                      
                                                                                         
Civilian labor                                                                           
 force.............. 44,833  29.0  44,522  28.7  45,249  29.1  44,974  28.7  43,162  27.5
 Employed........... 41,372  29.7  40,980  29.2  41,881  29.6  42,083  29.1  40,401  27.7
  Full time (4)..... 32,085  28.7  31,625  28.2  32,517  28.7  32,568  28.1  31,524  26.8
  Part time (5).....  9,287  33.7   9,355  33.2   9,363  33.3   9,515  33.4   8,877  31.7
 Unemployed.........  3,462  22.9   3,542  23.8   3,368  23.8   2,891  23.8   2,761  24.1
Not in the labor                                                                         
 force.............. 18,528  22.6  18,268  22.0  19,003  22.5  19,539  22.4  19,452  21.9
                                                                                         
   1 Data refer to persons 25 years and over.
   2 Includes persons with a high school diploma or equivalent.
   3 Includes persons with bachelor's, master's, professional, and doctoral degrees.
   4 Usually work 35 hours or more a week at all jobs.
   5 Usually work less than 35 hours a week at all jobs.
   NOTE: Estimates for the above race groups (white, black or African American, and
Asian) do not sum to totals because data are not presented for all races. Persons whose
ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race. Updated population
controls are introduced annually with the release of January data. Data on volunteers
relate to persons who performed unpaid volunteer activities for an organization at any
point in the year ending in September. See the Technical Note for further information.


Total Annual Hours Spent Volunteering

Volunteers spent a median of 50 hours on volunteer activities during the period from
September 2012 to September 2013. Time spent on volunteer activities was similar for
women and men. Among those who volunteered, median annual hours spent on volunteer
activities ranged from a low of 36 hours for those 25 to 34 years old to a high of 86
hours for those age 65 and over. (See table 2.)

Number and Type of Organizations

Most volunteers were involved with either one or two organizations--71.3 percent and
19.0 percent, respectively. Individuals with higher educational attainment were more
likely to volunteer for multiple organizations than were those with less education.
(See table 3.)

In 2013, the main organization--the organization for which the volunteer worked the most
hours during the year--was most frequently religious (33.0 percent of all volunteers),
followed by educational or youth service related (25.6 percent) and social or community
service organizations (14.7 percent). (See table 4.)

Older volunteers were more likely to volunteer mainly for religious organizations than
were their younger counterparts. Of volunteers age 65 and over, 42.9 percent did their
service mainly through or for a religious organization, compared with 26.8 percent of
volunteers age 16 to 24.

For all levels of educational attainment, volunteers were most likely to volunteer for
religious organizations, followed by educational or youth service organizations. Among
volunteers with less than a high school diploma, 47.5 percent volunteered mainly for
religious organizations and 23.8 percent volunteered for educational or youth service
organizations. Of volunteers with a bachelor's degree and higher, 29.6 percent 
volunteered mainly for religious organizations and 27.3 percent volunteered mainly
for educational or youth service organizations.

Among volunteers with children under 18 years old, 44.5 percent of mothers and 38.3 
percent of fathers volunteered mainly for an educational or youth service organization,
such as a school or scouting group. Volunteers without children under age 18 were more
likely than parents to volunteer for other types of organizations, such as social or
community service organizations and religious organizations.

Main Volunteer Activity for Main Organization

Collecting, preparing, distributing, or serving food (10.9 percent), fundraising (10.0
percent), and tutoring or teaching (9.8 percent) were the activities volunteers performed
most frequently for their main organization. Men and women tended to engage in different
main activities. Men who volunteered were most likely to engage in general labor (11.4
percent) or coach, referee, or supervise sports teams (9.9 percent). Female volunteers
were most likely to collect, prepare, distribute, or serve food (12.5 percent), fundraise
(11.5 percent), or tutor or teach (11.4 percent). (See table 5.)

The main types of activities volunteers performed varied by educational attainment. Persons
with a bachelor's degree and higher were more likely than those with less education to
provide professional or management assistance or to tutor or teach. Volunteers with less
than a high school diploma were more likely to engage in general labor or be an usher,
greeter, or minister than those with higher levels of education.

Parents were considerably more likely than those without children to engage mainly in
volunteer activities that are frequently related to children--including coaching,
refereeing, or supervising sports teams; tutoring or teaching; and mentoring youth.

How Volunteers Became Involved with Main Organization

About 40.8 percent of volunteers became involved with their main organization after being
asked to volunteer, most often by someone in the organization. About 43.0 percent became
involved on their own initiative--that is, they approached the organization. (See table 6.)



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Last Modified Date: February 25, 2014
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