Record Gains In Work For People With Disabilities

According to the National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE), now marks the longest run of employment gains for Americans with disabilities since the Great Recession. Indeed, in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Jobs Report released this week, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 26.6 percent in December 2015 to 28.7 percent in December 2016 (up 7.9 percent; 2.1 percentage points). Those are still horrific numbers. But finally, the trend is going in the right direction.

“For the ninth consecutive month, we see improvement in the employment-to-population ratio for people with disabilities; the longest stretch ever seen since the BLS started publishing disability employment statistics in October 2008,” noted John O’Neill, PhD, director of employment and disability research at Kessler Foundation. “These improvements in the employment situation for people with disabilities in 2016 were better than the gains we saw last year.  Let’s hope that this trend continues and we are able to reach pre-recession employment levels in 2017.”

The good news comes just after the National Task Force unveiled a major report that outlines best practices and policy recommendations to help states remove employment barriers for people with disabilities. The Council of State Governments teamed with the National Conference of State Legislatures in the effort. The State Exchange on Employment Disabilities, or SEED, initiative of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy funded the effort. Nebraska state Sen. Beau McCoy, the 2016 CSG national chair, and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, the 2016 CSG national president, co-chaired the task force. Markell, who is Jewish, has been at the forefront of expanding employment for people with disabilities for years. When he was chair of the National Governors Association, he led a major initiative on this issue. Markell, who is term limited and will leave government soon, has moved the conversation and actions tremendously across the country.

The task force unveiled the 96-page report titled, “Work Matters: A Framework for States on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities,” at the Disability Employment Policy Academy during the 2016 CSG National Conference.

About 1 in 5 Americans live with a disability and there are 22 million working age Americans with disabilities. But many adults and youth with disabilities are unemployed or underemployed despite an ability, desire and willingness to work in the community and contribute to the economy.

The task force convened four subcommittees focused on policy areas that impact the employability of people with disabilities: Career Readiness and Employability; Entrepreneurship, Tax Incentives and Procurement; Transportation, Technology and Other Employment Supports; and Hiring, Retention and Re-entry.

Markell encouraged state policymakers to take action using the report. He said states cannot thrive if some people who want to contribute are left on the fringes.

The full report is available online.

This post written by JENNIFER LASZLO MIZRAHI for the The New York Jewish Week  – originally posted January 12, 2017

To view the full article go to Record Gains In Work For People With Disabilities

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