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People with Disabilities More Engaged in the Workplace


imagesWEST ORANGE, N.J. March 8, 2013. New data indicate that people with disabilities are more engaged in the labor force, according to today’s Trends in Disability Employment – National Update, a new monthly analysis issued by Kessler Foundation and the Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire.

In Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday, March 8, the employment-to-population ratio increased from 25.2 percent in February 2012 to 27.6 percent (up 9.5%)in February 2013 for working-age people with disabilities.  This change indicates an increase in the engagement of people with disabilities in the workplace, according to John O’Neill, PhD, Kessler Foundation’s Director of Employment and Disability Research. A smaller increase from 69.8 percent to 69.9 percent (up 0.1%) was seen for working-age people without disabilities. The employment-to-population ratio, a key indicator, reflects the percentage of people who are working relative to the total population (number of people working ÷ number of people in the total population).

In addition, the labor force participation rate for people with disabilities increased from 30.4 percent in February 2012 to 31.8 percent in February 2013 (up 4.6%).  The labor participation rate indicates the percentage of people who are working or actively looking for work.  It is another key indicator of engagement in the world of work.  In contrast, a small decrease was seen among people without disabilities – from 76.3 percent to 76.0 percent (down 0.4%).  The rise in labor participation for people with disabilities is positive, according to IOD policy researcher Debra Brucker, PhD, although rates still remain far below those of people without disabilities.

Another indicator, the unemployment rate, also decreased for people with disabilities of working age – from 17.3 percent in February 2012 to 13.4 percent in February 2013 (down 22.5%). The unemployment rate reflects people who are not working and are looking for work. For people without disabilities, the unemployment rate also decreased over the same period, from 8.6 percent to 8.0 percent (down 7.0%).

“While these numbers suggest improvement in the engagement of people with disabilities in the workforce, these numbers must be interpreted with caution,” added IOD economist Andrew Houtenville, PhD.  Data for people with disabilities are not yet seasonally adjusted because five years of data are required to adjust for seasonal fluctuations. These data have only been formally tracked since June 2008.

The next Trends in Disability Employment – National Update will be issued on Friday, April 5, 2013.  Trends in Disability Employment – National Update is funded, in part, by a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (H133B120006), and Kessler Foundation.

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, the largest nonprofit organization in the field of disability research and employment, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition and mobility for people with multiple sclerosis, brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, and other disabling conditions.  Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for job training and employment for people with disabilities.

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