SOURCE: Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation

November 07, 2014 10:56 ET

nTIDE Jobs Report: Some Positive News on the Employment Front for People With Disabilities

Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire Release October nTIDE Report - Monthly Update

WEST ORANGE, NJ--(Marketwired - Nov 7, 2014) - With the overall economy doing well, there are some positive signs for people with disabilities for the first time since September 2013, according to today's National Trends in Disability Employment - Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD). The funding of innovative employment initiatives is helping to create jobs for people with disabilities. 

In the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Jobs Report released Friday, November 7, the employment-to-population ratio increased from 26.9 percent in October 2013 to 27.1 percent in October 2014 (up 0.7 percent; 0.2 percentage points) for working-age people with disabilities. 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). 

"Employment in the overall economy has been picking up for quite a while now. However, this is the first positive sign for the employment of people with disabilities that we have seen since September 2013 -- just before the upheaval of the sequester if you can remember that time," according to John O'Neill, Ph.D., Kessler Foundation's Director of Employment and Disability Research.

The labor force participation rate, however, decreased from 31.3 percent in October 2013 to 30.9 percent in October 2014 (down 1.3 percent; 0.4 percentage points) for working-age people with disabilities. The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the population that is working or actively looking for work. "The increase in the employment-to-population ratio for people with disabilities is certainly positive news, but it is tempered by the news that people with disabilities are continuing to leave the labor market and not actively looking for work," added Andrew Houtenville, Ph.D., UNH-IOD Associate Professor of Economics. 

With Veterans Day coming up next week, the focus is on employment issues for veterans with disabilities. In 2011, Kessler Foundation awarded a $30,000 Community Employment Grant to the nonprofit G.I. Go Fund in Newark, N.J. The G.I. Go Fund reaches out to veterans, including many with disabilities, to connect them with resources, housing and employment. Kessler Foundation worked with the G.I. Go Fund to develop a novel approach to expanding job opportunities. With the Foundation grant, the G.I. Go Fund developed a program for work-at-home training and employment that resulted in jobs for 50 veterans with disabilities in customer service positions at PSE&G, SetFocus and Johnson & Johnson.

"When applying for the grant, we weren't thinking of a work-at-home option," said Jack Fanous, executive director of the G.I. Go Fund. "Kessler Foundation had the foresight to guide us in that direction and we just executed their vision. The program has been so successful that it has expanded to other cities and Fortune 500 companies are adopting U.S.-based call centers staffed by veterans with disabilities."

In October 2014, among workers ages 16-64, the 4,350,000 workers with disabilities represented 3.1 percent of the total of 139,816,000 workers in the U.S.

"The nTIDE data are not seasonally adjusted," noted Dr. O'Neill. "Because the collection of disability employment statistics began only a few years ago, it will take more time for seasonal trends to become evident."

The next nTIDE will be issued on Friday, December 5, 2014.

NOTE: The statistics in the National Trends in Disability Employment - Update are based on Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, but are NOT identical. They have been customized by the University of New Hampshire to efficiently combine the statistics for men and women of working age (16 to 64).

nTIDE is funded, in part, by a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (H133B130015 & H133B120005), 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 NIDRR-funded Employment Policy and Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, visit http://www.ResearchonDisability.org.

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