nTIDE Jobs Report: Employment picture remains bright for Americans with Disabilities

December 2, 2016

nTIDE: Comparison of People with and without disabilities (November 2015 & November 2016)Durham, NH – While the employment picture brightens in the United States, more than one billion people with disabilities worldwide continue to face challenges as they strive for inclusion in their communities, 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). We are reminded of global efforts to support their dignity, rights, and well-being on December 3, the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

In the Bureau of Labor Statistics Jobs Report released Friday, December 2, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 26.0 percent in November 2015 to 27.7 percent in November 2016 (up 6.5 percent; 1.7 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also increased from 72.6 percent in November 2015 to 73.1 percent in November 2016 (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 its upward trend and once again outpaces improvements made by people without disabilities,” noted John O’Neill, PhD, director of employment and disability research at Kessler Foundation. “In addition, the relative magnitude of this month’s gain is larger than the average monthly gain over the previous seven months. So this is a pretty good month.”

The labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities increased from 29.9 percent in November 2015 to 31.1 percent in November 2016 (up 4.0 percent; 1.2 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate increased slightly from 76.1 percent in November 2015 to 76.4 percent in November 2016 (up 0.4 percent; 0.3 percentage points).

“This is indeed a pretty good month,” said Andrew Houtenville, PhD, associate professor of economics at UNH. “Both the employment-to-population ratio and the labor force participation rate going up at the same time, it suggests that more people with disabilities have jobs and more people with disabilities are engaging in the labor market, looking for work, compared to the same time last year.”

On December 3, Kessler Foundation joins the world community in commemorating the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities and supporting this year’s theme of a more inclusive and equitable world through sustainable development. Long before this UN Day was established, Henry H. Kessler MD, PhD (1896-1978), understood the value of comprehensive rehabilitation services for all people with disabilities. Dr. Kessler, who founded Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in 1948, advocated preparing people for full community participation, including employment, through “…the development of a complete program of rehabilitation services: vocational guidance, counseling and training….” In the aftermath of World War II, he implemented a worldwide effort by the UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration to help member nations establish desperately needed rehabilitation services. Dr. Kessler viewed victory over disability as a way to foster international cooperation, human development and world peace.

“Through its expanding international connections, the Foundation continues to build on Dr. Kessler’s legacy,” noted Dr. O’Neill. “Collaborative research is accelerating the development of new strategies for overcoming cognitive and motor disabilities. Through its international training program, the Foundation educates young professionals from around the world in rehabilitation science, which extends the influence of our research to the global community.”

In November 2016, among workers ages 16-64, the 4,405,000 workers with disabilities represented 3.1 percent of the total 143,375,000 workers in the U.S.

The next nTIDE will be issued on Friday, January 6, 2017.

Join our nTIDE Lunch & Learn series, starting today, December 2 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. Retired Senator Tom Harkin, joins Drs. Houtenville, O’Neill, and Michael Gamel-McCormick of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) to discuss today’s findings as well as International Disability Employment. You can join live, or watch the recordings at: www.ResearchonDisability.org/nTIDE.

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.