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Americans with disabilities kick off new year with sharp gains in labor market

nTIDE January 2018 jobs report: Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire release nTIDE report -- monthly update

Kessler Foundation


IMAGE: nTIDE January 2018 Jobs Report: Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire release National Trends in Disability Employment -- monthly update. view more 

Credit: Kessler Foundation

East Hanover, NJ - Feb. 2, 2018. January job numbers are a solid start to the new year for jobseekers with 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). This extends the record trend to 22 consecutive months for this population. Targeted funding of employment initiatives is helping employers in need of workers connect with people with disabilities across the nation who are striving to work.

In the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Jobs Report released Friday, February 2 , the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 27.1 percent in January 2017 to 29.9 percent in January 2018 (up 10.3 percent; 2.8 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also increased from 72.4 percent in January 2017 to 72.7 percent in January 2018 (up 0.4 percent; 0.3 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 month's increase in the employment-to-population ratio is truly impressive," said Andrew Houtenville, PhD, associate professor of economics at UNH and research director of the Institute on Disability. "It's the largest increase we've seen during the current upward trend in gains in the labor market for people with disabilities," he emphasized. The labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities increased from 30.8 percent in January 2017 to 33.0 percent in January 2018 (up 7.1 percent; 2.2 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate also decreased from 76.2 percent in January 2017 to 76.1 percent in January 2018 (down -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.

"We are approaching a major landmark of two years of job growth for people with disabilities," observed John O'Neill, PhD, director of employment and disability research at Kessler Foundation. "The length of this upward trend in employment levels shows that people with disabilities are well on their way to achieving pre-Great Recession employment levels," he added.

"As the economy continues to improve, the labor market is tightening, and employers are feeling the pressure to fill open positions," observed Rodger DeRose, president and chief executive officer of Kessler Foundation. "We fund the kinds of large-scale initiatives that aim to prepare jobseekers with disabilities to succeed in this competitive environment." Since 2000, Kessler Foundation has awarded more than $41.5 million to innovative employment initiatives in the U.S. The Foundation recently announced its latest round of grant funding - $2.3 million for a variety of national and local programs.

Major national grants totaling $1.5 million were awarded to initiatives in the Midwest, the Midatlantic states, and Texas. The Autism Alliance of Michigan's diversity initiative will create partnerships with vocational rehabilitation and provider agencies to promote employment of individuals with autism in automotive companies. The State University of Iowa, Center for Disabilities and Development's initiative, the Midwest Disability Employment Consortium: Just in Time Employment Supports, will launch pilot projects in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota that use mobile technology platforms, such as the iPad, to enhance supported employment services. Easter Seals Staffing Network, a project of Easter Seals Serving DC|MD|VA, will match individuals with disabilities to private sector employers throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia through a dynamic e-learning system and vocational support model. Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc.'s Works Job Club in Texas will launch a virtual career readiness program that will provide training for deaf and hard of hearing job seekers.

"These are the kinds of programs that will help fuel the positive trends reported in nTIDE," said DeRose, "and ensure that people with disabilities are ready to meet the challenges of today's workplace."

In January 2018, among workers ages 16-64, the 4,445,000 workers with disabilities represented 3.1 percent of the total 143,685,000 workers in the U.S.

The next nTIDE will be issued on Friday, March 9, 2018.


Join our nTIDE Lunch & Learn series today, February 2, at 12:00pm Eastern. 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. Dr. Ellie Hartman of the University of Wisconsin-Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute, will join Dr. Houtenville, Dr. O'Neill, and Denise Rozell, policy strategist at AUCD, to discuss the Wisconsin PROMISE grant. You can join live, or watch the recordings at:

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

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

For more information, or to interview an expert, contact:

Carolann Murphy, 973.324.8382,

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