Kessler Foundation Report: Rising Tide Continues to Hire Workers with Disabilities

Source: Kessler
For the fifth consecutive month, employment for workers with disabilities continued to grow, 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). Corporations and nonprofits are supporting opportunities for this population.
In the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Jobs Report released Friday, March 6, the labor force participation rate increased substantially for working-age people with disabilities—from 29.5 percent in February 2014 to 31.1 percent in February 2015 (up 5.4 percent; 1.6 percentage points). For people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate decreased slightly from 75.9 percent in February 2014 to 75.7 percent in February 2015 (down 0.3 percent; 0.2 percentage points). The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the population that is working or actively looking for work.
“We are witnessing more Americans with disabilities actively looking for work and securing employment when compared to last year,” according to John O’Neill, Ph.D., director of employment and disability research at Kessler Foundation. “This upward trend is a major reversal from what we have been seeing since first releasing the nTIDE report in March 2013.”
For working-age people with disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also increased from 24.6 percent in February 2014 to 27.3 percent in February 2015 (up 11 percent; 2.7 percentage points). For people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio increased slightly from 70.7 percent in February 2014 to 71.4 percent in February 2015 (up 1 percent; 0.7 percentage points). 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 comparison to February 2014, 442,000 more Americans with disabilities are in the workforce.
“This could mean that the economic recovery from the Great Recession is finally including people with disabilities. It will take more time to determine whether this is the case,” said Andrew J. Houtenville, Ph.D., associate professor of economics and research director at UNH-IOD.
National corporations are boosting job opportunities for individuals with disabilities. In 2013, Kessler Foundation awarded a $450,000 grant to the nonprofit Ability Beyond to expand a disability employment initiative with PepsiCo, called Pepsi ACT (Achieving Change Together). In one year, PepsiCo hired 60 individuals with disabilities and 46 remain working—a 13 percent increase over its national average. Positions are full-time and eligible for benefits.
nTIDE is funded, in part, by grants from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research, and the Kessler Foundation.

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