The number of people employed in the voluntary sector fell by 5 per cent in the year to the end of June, according to research published today.
The figures, which are based on data in the government’s quarterly Labour Force Survey, show the number of employees in the sector fell from 806,000 in the second quarter of 2010 to 768,000 in the same period this year.
The research shows that the sector’s workforce has contracted for two consecutive quarters.
Jenny Clark, research manager at the NCVO, said it was too soon to say for certain that a clear trend had emerged, but it did appear that the sustained period of growth had ended.
Clark said the sharp decline in the second quarter this year, immediately after the end of the last three-year government spending round, suggested cuts to government funding had caused significant job losses.
The survey revealed that average hourly earnings fell from £10.87 in the first quarter this year to £10.14 in the second quarter. The number of part-time staff increased over the same period from 289,000 to 302,000.
Keith Mogford, interim chief executive of Skills – Third Sector, said: "Although it might be unrealistic to expect the voluntary sector to be immune from the wider economic pressures in the UK, these findings illustrate the scale of the challenges facing the sector at a time when expectations are clearly rising."