Volunteering in the United States, 2011
The volunteer rate rose by 0.5 percentage point to 26.8 percent for the year ending in September 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. About 64.3 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2010 and September 2011. The increase in the volunteer rate in 2011 followed a decline of equal size in 2010.
These data on volunteering were collected through a supplement to the September 2011 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 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 rate of women increased from 29.3 percent to 29.9 percent in the year ending in September 2011, while the volunteer rate for men, at 23.5 percent, changed little. 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 and 45- to 54-year-olds were the most likely to volunteer (31.8 and 30.6 percent, respectively). Persons in their early twenties were the least likely to volunteer (19.4 percent). Among the major race and ethnicity groups, whites continued to volunteer at a higher rate (28.2 percent)
than did blacks (20.3 percent), Asians (20.0 percent), and Hispanics (14.9 percent). The volunteer rate for blacks increased in 2011. For all other major race and ethnicity
groups, the volunteer rates were little different from the rates in 2010.
As in earlier years, married persons volunteered at a higher rate (32.3 percent) in 2011 than did those who had never married (20.9 percent) and those with other marital statuses (21.5 percent). The volunteer rate of parents with children under
age 18 (33.7 percent) remained higher than the rate for persons without children (24.1 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, 42.4 percent of college graduates volunteered, compared with 18.2
percent of high school graduates and 9.8 percent of those with less than a high school diploma.