Beyond Social Value: The Economic Impact of the Social Services Sector in Massachusetts
Prepared by UMass Donahue Institute and UMass Dartmouth Public Policy Center
From the report's introductory statement, signed by the client, The Providers' Council.
In 2006 and 2007, the Providers’ Council commissioned the Donahue Institute of the University of
Massachusetts to produce “Help Wanted” and “Help Wanted 2,” two reports that defined the human
services workforce and identified the sector’s need to recruit and retain the next generation of workers.
The seminal reports about our sector and its workers told us that human services employment would
grow at an unprecedented rate with 37.5 percent growth expected between 2004 and 2014.
In 2014, we wondered if it achieved its expected targets for growth based on population needs. Additionally,
we were curious what impact the industry had on the Massachusetts economy in addition to the multitude
of social benefits that are so often well recognized. We also grew curious about the changing demographics
of the sector, particularly about the employment of individuals with a disability or those born in another
country. While the community-based human services industry has long provided cost-effective solutions to
protect vulnerable populations in our state and become an essential element to communities throughout
Massachusetts, would it continue?
The Council, again in partnership with the Donahue Institute, sought answers to these questions, and we
are now proud to present the result of our efforts – Beyond Social Value: The Economic Impact of the Human
Services Sector. This report focuses not on the incredible work done by the professionals in this sector, but
the lesser known role sector’s payroll and employee spending helps to create jobs and drive the economy in
other sectors. Anecdotal reports suggest human services workers often hold multiple part-time positions,
with many low-paid workers needing two to three jobs to meet their living expenses. This is a sobering
reminder of the financial challenges faced by providers who are increasingly expected to contend with a
rising demand for services with flat or lower funding.