NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The volunteer rate declined by 0.5 percentage points to 26.3% from September 2009 to September 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Wednesday.
In total, approximately 62.8 million people volunteered at some point during those 12 months, for an average of 52 hours, an estimate similar to those posted in 2007 and 2008. The numbers come from the September 2010 Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of about 60,000 households that obtains information on employment among U.S residents ages 16 and over.
A volunteer, as the BLS defines it, is a person who does unpaid work (except for expenses) through or for an organization, which includes associations, societies or groups of people who share a common interest, like churches, youth groups and civic organizations. The survey found that the main duties volunteers performed were fundraising (10.9%); collecting, preparing, distributing or serving food (9.9%); and tutoring or teaching (9.8%).
But while the volunteer rate may have dropped a bit, the personal profile of who is volunteering remained relatively unchanged.
Women continued to volunteer more than men, despite the fact that the volunteer rate of women decreased from 30.1% to 29.3%. The male volunteer rate remained relatively unchanged at 23.2%.
Additionally, married persons volunteered at a higher rate (32.0%) over the period than did those who had never married (20.3%) and those with other marital statuses (20.9%). Parents remained substantially more likely to volunteer than persons without children, though the number of parent volunteers with children under age 18 did decrease to 33.6% from 34.4%.
In terms of age groups, people 35 to 44 were the most likely to volunteer (32.2%) while persons in their early 20s were the least likely (18.4%). Individuals with higher levels of education volunteered at higher rates than those with less education. Among people 25 and over, 42.3% of college graduates volunteered some of their time, while 17.9% of high school graduates and 8.8 % of those with less than a high school diploma did so.
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