East Hanover, NJ – June 3, 2022 – May numbers show a mixed picture for people with disabilities with labor force participation rate down and employment-to-population up, 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). Efforts underway by the Federal Reserve to counter inflation may be dampening the progress of job seekers with disabilities, as reported by nTIDE experts.
Month-to-Month nTIDE Numbers (comparing April to May)
In the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Jobs Report released Friday, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 34 percent in April to 34.3 percent in May (up 0.9 percent or 0.3 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also increased from 74.5 percent in April to 74.7 percent in May (up 0.3 percent or 0.2 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 the past eight months we have seen the employment-to-population ratio for people with disabilities remain above pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels and also exceed historic highs dating back to 2008,” according to John O’Neill, PhD, at Kessler Foundation. "Given this recent progress, it is somewhat disappointing that the employment-to-population ratio has not continued to reach even higher levels for people with disabilities,” he added, “since employers are finding it so difficult to fill vacant positions.”
Findings were similar for May’s labor force participation rates. For working-age people with disabilities, the labor force participation rate decreased from 37.5 percent in April to 37.2 percent in May (down 0.8 percent or 0.3 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate increased from 76.9 percent in April to 77.2 percent in May (up 0.4 percent or 0.3 percentage points). The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the population that is working, not working and on temporary layoff, or not working and actively looking for work.
“The employment-to-population ratio and labor force participation rate of people with and without disabilities held steady in May, which could reflect Federal Reserve efforts to slow economic growth and get inflation in check,” remarked Andrew Houtenville, PhD, professor of economics and the research director of the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability. “Given labor market shortages, supply-chain challenges, and inflation, the lack of progress in the May job numbers could be a response to the Federal Reserve’s effort to create a soft landing for the economy,” Dr. Houtenville added.
Year-to-Year nTIDE Numbers (Comparing May 2021 to May 2022)
The employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 30.4 percent in May 2021 to 34.3 percent in May 2022 (up 12.8 percent or 3.9 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also increased from 72.2 percent in May 2021 to 74.7 percent in May 2022 (up 3.5 percent or 2.5 percentage points).
For working-age people with disabilities, the labor force participation rate increased from 34.2 percent in May 2021 to 37.2 percent in May 2022 (up 8.8 percent or 3 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate also increased from 76.3 percent in May 2021 to 77.2 percent in May 2022 (up 1.2 percent or 0.9 percentage points).
In May, among workers ages 16-64, the 5,676,000 workers with disabilities represented 3.8 percent of the total 148,077,000 workers in the U.S.
Ask Questions about Disability and Employment
Each nTIDE release is followed by a nTIDE Lunch & Learn online webinar. 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. On June 3 at 12:00 pm Eastern, Kelsey Webb, PhD candidate, and Gemarco J. Peterson, PhD, CRC, from the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Research and Capacity Building for Minority Entities, Langston University, join Drs. Houtenville and O’Neill, and Denise Rozell, Policy Strategist at Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD). Join our Lunch & Learns live or visit the nTIDE archives at: ResearchonDisability.org/nTIDE.
nTIDE COVID Update
Join us on June 24, at 12:00 pm Eastern for the mid-month COVID update – an in-depth comparison of the latest unemployment numbers for people with and without disabilities. Register at: COVID-19 Updates - 2022 | Center for Research on Disability.
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) (90RT5037) and Kessler Foundation.
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 ResearchOnDisability.org.
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.