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Economic News Release
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Volunteering in the United States, 2010

For release 10:00 a.m. (EST) Wednesday, January 26, 2011                USDL-11-0084

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--2010


The volunteer rate declined by 0.5 percentage point to 26.3 percent for the year 
ending in September 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. About 
62.8 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once be-
tween September 2009 and September 2010. The volunteer rate in 2010 was similar 
to the rates observed in 2007 and 2008.//VOLUN ZUNI3PO Test 10292020//

These data on volunteering were collected through a supplement to the September 2010 
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 among the na-
tion'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 rate of women decreased from 30.1 percent to 29.3 percent in the 
year ending in September 2010, while the volunteer rate for men, at 23.2 percent, 
was essentially unchanged. However, 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 the most likely to volunteer (32.2 percent). Per-
sons in their early twenties were the least likely to volunteer (18.4 percent).


Among the major race and ethnicity groups, whites continued to volunteer at a 
higher rate (27.8 percent) than did blacks (19.4 percent) and Asians (19.6 percent). 
The volunteer rate of whites and blacks declined from the prior year. Among Hispan-
ics or Latinos, 14.7 percent volunteered in 2010, the same rate as in 2009.

As in earlier years, married persons volunteered at a higher rate (32.0 percent) 
in 2010 than did those who had never married (20.3 percent) and those with other 
marital statuses (20.9 percent). Although the volunteer rate of parents with 
children under age 18 decreased to 33.6 percent from 34.4 percent in the prior 
year, parents remained substantially more likely to volunteer than persons with-
out children (23.5 percent).  

Individuals with higher levels of educational attainment engaged in volunteer 
activities at higher rates than did those with less education. Among persons age 
25 and over, 42.3 percent of college graduates volunteered, compared with 17.9 
percent of high school graduates and 8.8 percent of those with less than a high 
school diploma.



Table A.  Volunteers by selected characteristics, September 2006 through September 2010

(Numbers in thousands)

                                   September 2006    September 2007    September 2008    September 2009    September 2010
                                                                                            
                                           Percent           Percent           Percent           Percent          Percent 
                                  Number  of popu-  Number  of popu-  Number  of popu-  Number  of popu-  Number  of popu- 
                                           lation            lation            lation            lation           lation

                Sex

Total, both sexes ............... 61,199    26.7    60,838    26.2    61,803    26.4    63,361    26.8    62,790    26.3
   Men .......................... 25,546    23.0    25,724    22.9    26,268    23.2    26,655    23.3    26,787    23.2
   Women ........................ 35,653    30.1    35,114    29.3    35,535    29.4    36,706    30.1    36,004    29.3

                Age

Total, 16 years and over ........ 61,199    26.7    60,838    26.2    61,803    26.4    63,361    26.8    62,790    26.3
   16 to 24 years ...............  8,044    21.7     7,798    20.8     8,239    21.9     8,290    22.0     8,297    21.9
   25 to 34 years ...............  9,096    23.1     9,019    22.6     9,154    22.8     9,511    23.5     9,140    22.3
   35 to 44 years ............... 13,308    31.2    12,902    30.5    13,016    31.3    12,835    31.5    12,904    32.2
   45 to 54 years ............... 13,415    31.2    13,136    30.1    13,189    29.9    13,703    30.8    13,435    30.3
   55 to 64 years ...............  8,819    27.9     9,316    28.4     9,456    28.1     9,894    28.3     9,830    27.2
   65 years and over ............  8,518    23.8     8,667    23.8     8,749    23.5     9,129    23.9     9,184    23.6

  Race and Hispanic or Latino 
         ethnicity

White ........................... 52,850    28.3    52,586    27.9    53,078    27.9    54,078    28.3    53,556    27.8
Black or African American .......  5,211    19.2     5,010    18.2     5,325    19.1     5,712    20.2     5,580    19.4
Asian ...........................  1,881    18.5     1,887    17.7     2,022    18.7     2,060    19.0     2,207    19.6
Hispanic or Latino ethnicity ....  4,212    13.9     4,279    13.5     4,662    14.4     4,873    14.7     4,982    14.7

   Educational attainment 1

Less than a high school diploma .  2,615     9.3     2,394     9.0     2,427     9.4     2,242     8.6     2,231     8.8
High school graduates, no college 11,537    19.2    11,379    18.6    10,998    19.1    11,408    18.8    10,887    17.9
Some college or associate degree  15,196    30.9    15,468    30.7    15,519    30.0    15,931    30.5    15,505    29.2
Bachelor's degree and higher 3 .. 23,808    43.3    23,799    41.8    24,620    42.2    25,490    42.8    25,870    42.3

      Employment status

Civilian labor force ............ 43,579    28.5    43,405    28.1    44,313    28.5    44,833    29.0    44,522    28.7
   Employed ..................... 41,861    28.7    41,708    28.3    42,131    28.9    41,372    29.7    40,980    29.2
     Full time 4 ................ 32,951    27.3    32,714    26.9    33,344    27.8    32,085    28.7    31,625    28.2
     Part time 5 ................  8,910    35.5     8,994    35.4     8,788    34.2     9,287    33.7     9,355    33.2
   Unemployed ...................  1,718    23.8     1,697    23.2     2,181    22.3     3,462    22.9     3,542    23.8
Not in the labor force .......... 17,621    23.1    17,433    22.3    17,491    22.2    18,528    22.6    18,268    22.0


   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.



Volunteers by Employment Status

Among employed persons, 29.2 percent volunteered during the year ending in Septem-
ber 2010. By comparison, 23.8 percent of unemployed persons and 22.0 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 activi-
ties--33.2 versus 28.2 percent. (See table 1.)

Total Annual Hours Spent Volunteering

Volunteers of both sexes spent a median of 52 hours on volunteer activities dur-
ing the period from September 2009 to September 2010. Median annual hours spent 
on volunteer activities ranged from a high of 96 hours for volunteers age 65 and 
over to a low of 40 hours for those 16 to 34 years old. (See table 2.)

Number and Type of Organizations

Most volunteers were involved with either one or two organizations--69.1 and 19.8 
percent, respectively. Individuals with higher educational attainment were more 
likely to volunteer for multiple organizations than were those with less educa-
tion. (See table 3.)

In 2010, the main organization--the organization for which the volunteer worked 
the most hours during the year--was most frequently religious (33.8 percent of 
all volunteers), followed by educational or youth service related (26.5 percent). 
Another 13.6 percent of volunteers performed activities mainly for social or com-
munity service organizations. (See table 4.)

Older volunteers were more likely to volunteer mainly for religious organizations 
than were their younger counterparts. For example, 44.6 percent of volunteers age 
65 and over did their service mainly through or for a religious organization, com-
pared with 28.2 percent of volunteers age 16 to 24.

The type of main organization for which individuals volunteered also varied by edu-
cational attainment. Volunteering mainly for religious organizations decreased as 
educational attainment increased. Among volunteers with less than a high school 
diploma, 49.7 percent volunteered mainly for religious organizations, compared 
with 31.9 percent of those with a bachelor's degree and higher. Volunteering pri-
marily for educational or youth service organizations increased with educational 
attainment. Of volunteers with less than a high school diploma, 23.9 percent vol-
unteered mainly for this type of organization, compared with 27.3 percent of those 
with a bachelor's degree and higher.

Among volunteers with children under 18 years old, 44.8 percent of mothers and 39.6 
percent of fathers volunteered mainly for an educational or youth service organi-
zation, such as a school or scouting group. Volunteers without children under 18 
were more likely than parents to volunteer for other types of organizations, such 
as social or community service organizations and hospitals or other health organi-
zations.

Main Volunteer Activity for Main Organization

The main activity volunteers performed for their main organization was most fre-
quently fundraising (10.9 percent); collecting, preparing, distributing, or serv-
ing food (9.9 percent); or tutoring or teaching (9.8 percent). Men and women tend-
ed to engage in different main activities. Men who volunteered were most likely 
to engage in general labor (11.5 percent); coach, referee, or supervise sports 
teams (10.2 percent); or fundraise (9.3 percent). Female volunteers were most
likely to fundraise (12.1 percent); tutor or teach (11.5 percent); or collect, 
prepare, distribute, or serve food (11.4 percent). (See table 5.)

Educational attainment influenced the types of activities volunteers performed. 
College graduates were more likely than those with less education to tutor or 
teach or to provide professional or management assistance. They were least likely 
to collect, make, or distribute clothing, crafts, or goods other than food.

Parents were considerably more likely than those without children to engage 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 42.7 percent of volunteers became involved with their main organization after 
being asked to volunteer, most often by someone in the organization. About 41.6 per-
cent became involved on their own initiative; that is, they approached the organiza-
tion. (See table 6.)



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Last Modified Date: October 29, 2020