East Hanover, NJ - December 8, 2017. The job outlook remained positive for Americans with disabilities, with yet another month of gains in the major economic indicators, 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). This upward trend now extends to 20 consecutive months of gains in the labor market for people with disabilities.
Workplace participation of people with disabilities can be facilitated by more widespread application of effective employer practices, according to findings of the 2017 Kessler Foundation National Employment and Disability Survey: Supervisor Perspective. Collaborating with local disability organizations, for example, can be a very effective means of recruitment. These partnerships help connect corporations interested in hiring people with disabilities with qualified candidates.
In the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Jobs Report released Friday, December 8, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 27.7 percent in November 2016 to 30.0 percent in November 2017 (up 8.3 percent; 2.3 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also increased from 76.4 percent in November 2016 to 76.5 percent in November 2017 (up 0.1 percent; 0.1 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).
"For 20 consecutive months, we are seeing improvement in the employment-to-population ratio for people with disabilities," according to John O'Neill, PhD, director of employment and disability research at Kessler Foundation. "The prolonged duration of this upward trend shows that people with disabilities are striving to work and may, indeed, be on their way to achieving pre-Great Recession employment levels," he added.
The labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities increased from 31.1 percent in November 2016 to 33.1 percent in November 2017 (up 6.4 percent; 2 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate also increased from 76.4 percent in November 2016 to 76.5 percent in November 2017 (up 0.1 percent; 0.1 percentage points). The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the population that is working or actively looking for work.
Across the nation, major corporations such as Amazon, Cintas, Legal Seafood, OfficeMax, Pepsi, Petco, Sears, and Sephora are meeting their hiring needs by partnering with local disability organizations. Ability Beyond, Autism Association of Michigan, FedCap, Viability, and ViaQuest are among the organizations that serve as community workforce intermediaries, charged with providing qualified candidates to fill competitive jobs. Funding for these successful partnerships comes from private foundations that recognize the benefits of a diverse workforce for businesses as well as individuals.
"While increases in the rates of employment and labor force participation for Americans with disabilities are a positive sign, there is more that employers can do to increase their hiring and retention of workers with disabilities," said Debra Brucker, PhD, research assistant professor at the UNH Institute on Disability.
"Looking at our recent survey, it's clear that many more employers could achieve their hiring goals and diversify their workplaces by engaging with community workforce intermediaries," said Elaine E. Katz, MS, CCC-SLP, senior vice president of grants and communications at Kessler Foundation. "Although this practice is highly effective for recruiting and hiring, few employers are engaging with local organizations, although supervisors felt this practice would be feasible to implement. Recognizing the potential for this practice will benefit employers while expanding job opportunities for people with disabilities."
In November 2017, among workers ages 16-64, the 4,578,000 workers with disabilities represented 3.2 percent of the total 144,810,000 workers in the U.S.
The next nTIDE will be issued on Friday, January 5, 2018.
After each nTIDE release, experts convene for a noon nTIDE Lunch & Learn series. This live broadcast, hosted via Zoom Webinar, offers attendees Q&A on the latest nTIDE findings, provides news and updates from the field, as well as invited panelists to discuss current disability-related findings and events. You can join live, or watch the recordings at: http://www.ResearchonDisability.org/nTIDE.
NOTE: The statistics in the nTIDE are based on Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, but are not identical. They are customized by UNH to combine the statistics for men and women of working age (16 to 64). NTIDE is funded, in part, by grants from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) (9ORT5022 and 90RT5017) 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 http://www.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 NIDILRR-funded Employment Policy and Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, visit http://www.ResearchonDisability.org.
For more information, or to interview an expert, contact: Carolann Murphy, 973.324.8382, CMurphy@KesslerFoundation.org.