The unemployment rate for people with a disability dropped last year, falling from 10.5 percent in 2016 to 9.2 percent in 2017, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
“This is a significant decline,” said BLS economist Janie-Lynn Kang. “The decline reflects the trend in the overall labor force, which has been recovering since the end of the Great Recession.” In fact, the overall U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent in May 2018—the lowest since April 2000.
The data on the jobless rate for those who have a disability is from the Current Population Survey, a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that provides statistics on employment and unemployment in the U.S. Unemployed people are those who did not have a job, were available for work, and were actively looking for a job in the four weeks preceding the survey.
Almost one-third (32 percent) of workers with a disability were employed part-time—more so than those without a disability.
Those with a disability were more likely to work in service occupations, production, transportation and material-moving occupations than those who did not have a disability, the BLS found. A slightly higher percentage of workers with a disability also worked in government (14 percent versus 11.6 percent who did not have a disability). They also were more likely to be self-employed.
Men and women with a disability had about the same unemployment rate in 2017 (9 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively). Additionally, black individuals (13.8 percent) with a disability had a higher unemployment rate than Hispanics (10.2 percent), Asians (6.6 percent) and white people (8.5 percent). Among all people who had a disability, nearly half were age 65 or older in 2017.
More People with Disabilities Are Getting Jobs. Here’s Why.
With unemployment at a low, fewer people are looking for jobs. Many employers are having a hard time finding people qualified to fill the positions they have open. That’s left an opening for people with disabilities, a group that’s broadly defined under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
This demographic has always been underemployed. But Americans with disabilities have posted year-over-year gains in the job market for the past 21 consecutive months, according to an analysis by the Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire.
Will Employment Keep Growing? Disabled Workers Offer a Clue
One workplace trend has changed direction in the past few years—people who cited health reasons for not working are returning to the labor force. The data shows that the decline has come almost entirely from the older half of the prime-age population (that is, people between 40 and 54). The drop has also been steeper among the less educated.
(The New York Times)
Hiring People with Disabilities
The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Office of Disability Employment Policy supports several initiatives that help employers interested in hiring individuals with disabilities, including the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion. The free, nationwide service educates employers about effective strategies for recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing people with disabilities. And the Job Accommodation Network provides free advice on workplace accommodations.
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