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Report Highlights Continued Disparity in Employment Between Individuals with Disabilities and Those Without

According to the most recent National Trends in Disability Employment – Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD), an April jobs report indicates that as the economy begins to surge, Americans with disabilities are being left behind. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Jobs Report, issued May 2, the employment-to-population ratio decreased from 27.3% in April 2013 to 25.3% in April 2014 for working-age individuals with disabilities. Among individuals without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio increased from 70.6% in April 2013 to 71.4% in April 2014.

A news release from the two organizations notes that the employment-to-population ratio 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).

While the report is positive for the overall economy,  “…the numbers we are tracking show that employment of people with disabilities continues to decline,” says John O’Neill, PhD, Kessler Foundation’s director of Employment and Disability Research.

O’Neill adds, “It appears that people with disabilities are being left out of the recovery from the great recession.”

Despite this, the release also points to a growing movement encompassing the creation of social enterprises that blend good business sense with a nonprofit mission of employing individuals with disabilities. An example of this, the release reports, is Hudson Community Enterprises (HCE), Jersey City, NJ, a document management social enterprise that offers scanning, shredding, archiving, digital mail, and microfiche services to clients. A total of 70% of the company’s workforce is comprised of individuals with disabilities.

The April job data goes on to indicate that the percentage of individuals with disabilities looking for work decreased from 4.5% in April 2013 to 4.1% in April 2014. For individuals without disabilities, the percentage looking for work also declined from 5.3% in April 2013 to 4.3% in April 2014.

Andrew Houtenville, PhD, UNH-IOD, associate professor of economics, rearticulates the findings, stating “the fewer individuals with are actively searching for work compared to this time last year.”

Houtenville adds that when combined with the decline in the employment-to-population ratio, this provides a dreary picture for the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in the American Economy moving forward.

The release notes that in April 2014, among workers aged 16 to 64 years old, 3,910,000 workers with disabilities represented 2.8% of the total 137,722,000 workers in the US.

The next nTIDE will be issued June 6.

Source(s): Kessler Foundation, UNH-IOD