Volunteering on the rise: September 2008-September 2009

Both the number of volunteers and the volunteer rate rose over the year ended in September 2009. About 63.4 million people, or 26.8 percent of the population, volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2008 and September 2009. In 2008, the volunteer rate was 26.4 percent.

The volunteer rate of women increased from 29.4 percent in 2008 to 30.1 percent in 2009, while the volunteer rate for men, at 23.3 percent, was essentially unchanged.

In 2009, the main organization—the organization for which the volunteer worked the most hours during the year—was most frequently religious (34.0 percent of all volunteers), followed by educational or youth service related (26.1 percent). Another 13.9 percent of volunteers performed activities mainly for social or community service organizations.

These data were collected through a supplement to the September 2009 Current Population Survey (CPS). For a variety of information on volunteering, see “Volunteering in the United States—2009,” (PDF) (HTML) news release, USDL 10-0097.

A Look Into the Data

By age, 35- to 44-year olds and 45- to 54-year olds were the most likely to volunteer. Their volunteer rates were 31.5 percent and 30.8 percent, respec- tively, in 2009. Volunteer rates were lowest among persons in their early twen- ties (18.8 percent) and those age 65 and over (23.9 percent).

Among the major race and ethnicity groups, whites continued to volunteer at a higher rate (28.3 percent) than did blacks (20.2 percent), Asians (19.0 per- cent), and Hispanics (14.7 percent). Of these groups, the volunteer rate of blacks and whites rose in 2009. Among blacks it rose by 1.1 percentage points, driven by an increase in the volunteer rate of black women.

Volunteer rates were higher among married persons (32.3 percent) than those who had never married (20.6 percent) and those with other marital statuses (21.5 percent). Parents with children under age 18 were substantially more likely to volunteer than were persons without children under 18 years of age, 34.4 per- cent compared with 23.9 percent.

Individuals with higher levels of educational attainment were more likely to volunteer than were those with less education. Among persons age 25 and over, 42.8 percent of college graduates volunteered, compared with 18.8 percent of high school graduates and 8.6 percent of those with less than a high school diploma.


See the original article from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Volunteering on the rise: September 2008-September 2009.

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