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nTIDE February 2017 Jobs Report: Americans with Disabilities Continue to Contribute to Job Gains

by Anna Brennan-Curry | Mar 10, 2017

Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire release nTIDE Report – Monthly Update

Durham, NH – Employment continues to increase for Americans with disabilities, building on the solid start to the new year, 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). Achieving positive employment outcomes is especially challenging for high schools that serve young adults with moderate to severe disabilities. Promising approaches are based on intervening early, coordinating educational and vocational resources, and cultivating local employers.

nTIDE: Comparison of People with and without Disabilities (February 2016 & 2017) 

The February numbers indicate that people with and without disabilities are contributing to U.S. job gains. In the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Jobs Report released Friday, March 10, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 26.0 percent in February 2016 to 28.1 percent in February 2017 (up 8.1 percent; 2.1 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio increased slightly from 72.3 percent in February 2016 to 72.8 percent in February 2017 (up 0.7 percent; 0.5 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).

“The improvement in the proportion of people with disabilities working continues for the eleventh consecutive month,” according to John O’Neill, PhD, director of employment and disability research at Kessler Foundation. “This is the longest run of positive news since we began reporting the employment situation of people with disabilities in 2013,” he added.

The labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities increased from 30.2 percent in February 2016 to 31.5 percent in February 2017 (up 4.3 percent; 1.3 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate increased slightly from 76.1 percent in February 2016 to 76.4 percent in February 2017 (up 0.4 percent; 0.3 percentage points). The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the population that is working or actively looking for work.

“The trend in the employment of people with disabilities keeps marching upwards; of course there is still quite a ways to go,” said Andrew Houtenville, PhD, associate professor of economics at UNH.

Students with disabilities often struggle after graduating from the supportive environment of special services high schools, and are unprepared to transition into the work force. Bridge to Employment, a promising new pilot program funded by Kessler Foundation, is an example of the efforts to ease this transition for students in New Jersey who attend the Atlantic County Special Services School District (ACSSSD).

 JEVS Human Services created the program to address the employment needs of the hardest to serve students. Taking a sophisticated approach, the program begins with a holistic assessment of the values, interests, personalities, and aptitudes of the students, in order to find work placements that are a good fit and provide possibilities for the students to develop—thus improving retention and reducing the long-term burden on the workforce development system. The program also connects students early on with the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS), a program collaborator, so there’s no gap in services for the students. Another key element to the program is the addition of a dedicated professional called a career navigator to help place students, in part by developing visual resumes using PowerPoint format, an engaging format for presenting their individual skills, interests, and strengths.

“We look forward to seeing how well the program fills the vital need for supports and services for high school students transitioning to the workplace,” said Elaine E. Katz, MS, CCC-SLP, senior VP of grants and communications at Kessler Foundation. “If Bridge to Employment succeeds in transitioning the ACSSSD students who are hardest to serve, this program could serve as a model for effective transition programs in other counties in New Jersey as well.”

In February 2017, among workers ages 16-64, the 4,409,000 workers with disabilities represented 3.1 percent of the total 142,437,000 workers in the U.S.

The next nTIDE will be issued on Friday, April 7, 2017. Follow the news on Twitter #nTIDE.

Join our nTIDE Lunch & Learn series, starting today, March 10 at 12:00pm EST. This live broadcast, hosted via Zoom Webinar, will offer attendees Q&A on the latest nTIDE findings, provide news and updates from the field, as well as host-invited panelists to discuss current disability-related findings and events. Rita Landgraf, Professor of Practice and Distinguished Health and Social Services Administrator in Residence, University of Delaware, College of Health Sciences, joins Drs. Houtenville and O’Neill, Michael Murray of Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and Denise Rozell, Policy Strategist at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), to discuss today’s findings as well as the positive return on advancing employment of individuals with disabilities. You can join live, or watch the recordings at: www.ResearchonDisability.org/nTIDE.  Find updates on Twitter #nTIDELearn.

NOTE: The statistics in the National Trends in Disability Employment Update are based on Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, but are NOT identical. They’ve 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 grants from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) (9ORT5022-02-00 & 90RT5017) 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 www.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 NIDILRR-funded Employment Policy and Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, visit www.ResearchonDisability.org.

For more information, or to interview an expert, contact:

Carolann Murphy, 973.324.8382, CMurphy@KesslerFoundation.org

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