Employment For People With Disabilities Declines For Fourth Straight Month - The Mobility Resource

February employment numbers continued to decline for people with disabilities when compared to February 2013, in contrast to a more positive outlook for people without disabilities, according to today’s National Trends in Disability Employment – Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD). Despite the statistics, positive strategies that help people with disabilities find jobs and careers are promising.

In Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “first-Friday” data released Friday, March 7, the employment-to-population ratio decreased from 27.6 percent in February 2013 to 24.6 percent in February 2014 (down 10.9 percent; 3.0 percentage points) for working-age people with disabilities. In contrast, for people withoutdisabilities, the employment-to-population ratio increased slightly from 69.9 percent in February 2013 to 70.7 percent in February 2014 (up 1.1 percent; 0.8 percentage points). The employment-to-population ratio, a key indicator, reflects the percentage of people who are working relative to the total population (the number of people working divided by the number of people in the total population multiplied by 100).

“This morning’s report for the overall employment outlook of the country exceeded expectations,” according to John O’Neill, Ph.D., Kessler Foundation’s Director of Employment and Disability Research. “However, employment has decreased for people with disabilities, which shows the importance of developing strategies and supporting initiatives that expand job opportunities for this talented population.”

Despite the data trends, much is being achieved through strategies aimed at opening up large numbers of jobs for people with disabilities.  Public-private partnerships are one such strategy that is supported by the grant funding of Kessler Foundation.  The Foundation funds the innovative program ‘Maxing Out Diversity’ in partnership with OfficeMax® Incorporated, now part of the new company formed through the merger of equals with Office Depot, Inc. (NYSE: ODP), a leading global provider of office products, services, and solutions. ‘Maxing Out Diversity’, which operates in Nevada, Ohio, Illinois and Texas provides job training and career opportunities in retail and distribution centers for people who face significant barriers to employment.

“The ‘Maxing Out Diversity’ project is just one example of how gains in disability employment can be made through public-private partnerships,” said Rodger DeRose, president and CEO of Kessler Foundation. “Through collaboration, corporations are implementing successful initiatives that diversify their workplaces and provide a high return on investment.”

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According to February’s data, the percentage of people with disabilities looking for work increased, from 4.3 percent in February 2013 to 4.8 percent in February 2014 (up 11.6 percent; 0.5 percentage points).  This percentage is the number of people looking for work divided by the number of people in the total population multiplied by 100).  “This is somewhat good news, in that many people with disabilities are staying engaged in the labor market—looking for work—rather than leaving the labor market completely,” according to Andrew Houtenville, Ph.D., UNH-IOD Associate Professor of Economics.  In contrast, for people without disabilities, the percentage looking for work declined from 6.1 percent in February 2013 to 5.2 percent in February 2014 (down 14.3 percent; 0.9 percentage points).

In February 2014, among workers ages 16-64, the 3,804,000 workers with disabilities represented 2.8 percent of the total 136,100,000 workers in the U.S.

“The figures in the nTIDE are not seasonally adjusted,” noted Dr. O’Neill. “The collection of disability employment statistics began a few years ago, and it will take some time for seasonal trends to become evident.”

The next National Trends in Disability Employment – Monthly Update will be issued on Friday, April 4, 2014.

NOTE:  The statistics in the National Trends in Disability Employment – Update are based on Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, but are NOT identical.  They have been customized by the University of New Hampshire to efficiently combine the statistics for men and women of working age (16 to 64).

National Trends in Disability Employment – Monthly Update is funded, in part, by a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (H133B130015 & H133B120005), and Kessler Foundation.

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit KesslerFoundation.org.

About the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire

The Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) was established in 1987 to provide a coherent university-based focus for the improvement of knowledge, policies, and practices related to the lives of persons with disabilities and their families. For information on the NIDRR-funded Employment Policy and Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, visit http://www.ResearchonDisability.org.


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