Reports The Face of the Human Services Sector

The report details the composition of the Massachusetts human services workforce and key differences that set it apart from other industries in the Commonwealth.


University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute, UMass Dartmouth, Providers' Council

Publication Date

Dec. 5 2018

A new report from the Providers’ Council, the state’s largest association of community-based human services providers, shows that job growth in the human services industry in Massachusetts is outpacing overall job growth in the state by a rate of nearly 10 to 1, while employing the most diverse workforce.

The report – The Face of the Human Services Sector – produced in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute and UMass Dartmouth, was commissioned in 2018 to look at the composition of the Massachusetts human services sector, which has grown to account for nearly 180,000 jobs between 2006 and 2016 and comprises nearly 150,000 workers.

“In analyzing the report’s data, it reveals a changing demographic profile of our workforce that presents new challenges to our sector’s ability to acquire and develop talent for various positions,” said Providers’ Council President and CEO Michael Weekes. “We are a sector of diversity and inclusion, not only in our members’ missions, but in the people who are carrying out those vital missions each day – women, people of color, millennials, immigrants and persons with disabilities.”

The Face of the Human Services Sector takes a deep dive into the demographics of the human services workforce in Massachusetts and the key differences that set it apart from other industries in the Commonwealth, such as:

  • 80 percent are women – higher than health care (77 percent) and nearly double of all other industries combined (44 percent);
  • The sector is twice as likely to employ persons who identify as black/African American and 1.5 times as likely to employ Latinos;
  • More than 7 percent of workers have a disability, compared to 4.6 percent in all other Mass. industries;
  • Median wages for all human services workers ($27,376) is more than $13,000 lower than media wages across all Massachusetts industries ($40,557); and
  • Human services workers are nearly twice as likely as health care workers to live below 150 percent of the poverty level, with 1 in 8 workers living below that level.

The report – the sixth such collaboration between the Donahue Institute, UMass Dartmouth and the Providers’ Council – shows that the community-based human services sector in Massachusetts now comprises nearly 180,000 jobs or 5 percent of the jobs in the state.

For more information, email Bill Yelenak at