BLS: Jobless Rate for People with Disabilities Decreases

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek June 25, 2018
BLS: Jobless Rate for People with Disabilities Decreases

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.

SHRM Online collected the following articles from its archives and a variety of respected sources about people with disabilities in the workplace. 

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. 

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Employing People with Cognitive Disabilities

How AI Can Make the Workplace More Accessible

Technology is enhancing our work lives; we amplify our memory with a search engine; we change the font on our phones and screens so we can read without glasses, we may even use apps to monitor our sleep patterns enabling us to be more rested and effective at work.
However, for those with disabilities, focused artificial intelligence technologies have begun to change their work lives in very powerful ways.
(Wall Street Journal blog)

Tips for Small Businesses 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) offers tips on making reasonable accommodations for job applicants and workers who have disabilities. 

People with Autism Can Be an 'Untapped Reservoir of Talent' 

Exercise and other simple accommodations can help people with autism focus and excel at work.
"Autism is the world's fastest-growing developmental disability," said David S. Geslak. He is founder and president of Autism Workforce, a national organization headquartered in Chicago.
"Most [Society for Human Resource Management] members—in some way—are dealing with autism whether they know it or not," he said.
(SHRM Online)    

Learning Sign Language Bonds Team with Deaf Co-Worker

When Kamal Nasser interviewed for an AT&T warehouse associate job in Hilliard, Ohio, his interpreter came along. Nasser is completely deaf and uses American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate.  He got the job; shortly after he was hired, the three-member team he joined learned ASL.
Nasser is one of more than 28 million Americans who are deaf or who have a hearing impairment, according to the Job Accommodation Network, a free service of the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy.
(SHRM Online)



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