News Release 

nTIDE February 2021 Jobs Report: Modest job gains provide hope for economic recovery

National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) - issued semi-monthly by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire

Kessler Foundation

Science Business Announcement

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IMAGE: This graphic compares the employment-to-population ratios and labor force participation rates for January 2021 and February 2021 for people with and without disabilities, showing modest increases. view more 

Credit: Kessler Foundation

East Hanover, NJ - March 5, 2021 - The job numbers increased slightly as the economy strived to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, 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). With the ongoing decline in COVID-19 cases and the increasing success of the vaccine rollout, the outlook is positive for continued improvement. The prospects for additional federal aid are another factor that may affect the indicators in the coming months.

nTIDE COVID Update (month-to-month comparison)

In the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Jobs Report released Friday, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 28.7 percent in January to 28.8 percent in February 2021 (up 0.3 percent or 0.1 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also increased from 70.5 percent in January to 71.1 percent in February 2021 (up 0.9 percent or 0.6 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).

"In contrast to January, we saw a slight improvement in the employment-to-population ratio," said John O'Neill, PhD, director of the Center for Employment and Disability Research at Kessler Foundation. "We may continue to see improvement in the employment-to-population ratio in coming months," he said, "as we gain control over COVID-19 outbreaks, and hospitalizations and mortality continues to decline."

The labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities increased from 32.8 percent in January to 33.4 percent in February 2021 (up 1.8 percent or 0.6 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate also increased from 75.5 percent in January to 76.0 percent in February 2021 (up 0.7 percent or 0.5 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 labor force participation rate for people with disabilities made modest gains in February, with many people with disabilities looking for work" noted economist Andrew Houtenville, PhD, research director of the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability. "Over the course of the pandemic, we have seen people with disabilities staying engaged in the workforce--being on furlough or actively looking for work. We are hopeful that the modest improvements in February will continue as more and more individuals are vaccinated."

Traditional nTIDE Numbers (comparison to the same time last year)

The employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities decreased from 30.9 percent in February 2020 to 28.8 percent in February 2021 (down 6.8 percent or 2.1 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also decreased from 74.8 percent in February 2020 to 71.1 percent in February 2021 (down 4.9 percent or 3.7 percentage points).

The labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities decreased from 33.8 percent in February 2020 to 33.4 percent in February 2021 (down 1.2 percent or 0.4 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate also decreased from 77.7 percent in February 2020 to 76 percent in February 2021 (down 2.2 percent or 1.7 percentage points).

In February 2021, among workers ages 16-64, the 4,285,000 workers with disabilities represented 3.1 percent of the total 139,785,000 workers in the U.S.

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nTIDE COVID Update - Friday, March 19 at 12:00 pm Eastern

Stay tuned for our mid-month update about the employment of people with disabilities as we follow the impact of COVID-19 and look at the numbers in more detail.

Ask Questions about Disability and Employment

Each release is followed by a nTIDE Lunch & Learn webinar at noon ET. This live broadcast, hosted on Zoom, 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 March 5, Betty Siegel, director of VSA and Accessibility at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, joins Dr. Houtenville, Dr. O'Neill from Kessler Foundation, and Denise Rozell, Policy Strategist at AUCD. Join live or watch the recordings at: 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) (90RT5037) 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 NIDILRR-funded Employment Policy and Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, visit ResearchonDisability.org.

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

Carolann Murphy, 973.324.8382, CMurphy@KesslerFoundation.org

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