SOURCE: Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation

November 08, 2013 10:13 ET

October Employment Results for People With Disabilities Skewed by Government Shutdown

Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire Release November TIDE Report - National Update

WEST ORANGE, NJ--(Marketwired - Nov 8, 2013) - When compared with last year's data, there are substantial decreases in the employment and labor force participation of people with disabilities, which may be the result of the government shutdown, according to today's Trends in Disability Employment - National Monthly Update (TIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD).

In Bureau of Labor Statistics' "first-Friday" data released Friday, November 8, the employment-to-population ratio decreased from 28.4 percent in October 2012 to 26.9 percent in October 2013 (down 5.3 percent; 1.5 percentage point) for working-age people with disabilities. "It is very difficult to interpret these results due to the government shutdown. Many federal workers were furloughed and not working," according to John O'Neill, Ph.D., Kessler Foundation's Director of Employment and Disability Research. For people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio was 71 percent in October 2012 and 70.7 percent in October 2013 (down 1 percent; 0.8 percentage points). "The shutdown may have skewed the employment picture more so for people with disabilities, given the federal work force is, on average, older than the private sector work force, and thus more likely to be comprised of people with disabilities," added Andrew Houtenville, Ph.D., UNH-IOD Associate Professor of Economics. 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 addition, the percent actively looking for work decreased for people with disabilities, from 4.6 percent in October 2012 to 4.4 percent in October 2013 (down 4.5 percent; 0.2 percentage points). "This further reflects the skewed nature of these data. Furloughed government workers may have reported that they were not actively looking for work," according to Dr. O'Neill. Similarly, for people without disabilities the percentage looking for work decreased from 5.7 percent in October 2012 to 5.2 percent in October 2013. The percent looking for work reflects the percentage of people who are looking for work relative to the total population (the number of people looking for work divided by the number of people in the total population multiplied by 100).

"These numbers are not seasonally adjusted," noted Dr. O'Neill. "The collection of disability employment statistics began a few years ago, and it will take some time for seasonal trends to become evident."

Last month's TIDE Update, issued on October 22, 2013 was delayed due to the partial Federal government shutdown. It suggested optimistic results in the engagement of people with disabilities in the workforce, as indicated by a steady hold in labor force participation and a rise in the percentage that were working. The next Trends in Disability Employment - National Update will be issued on Friday, December 6, 2013.

NOTE: The statistics in the Trends in Disability Employment - National 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).

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, a major 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. 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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