nTIDE January 2019 Jobs Report: Job Numbers Hold Steady for Americans with Disabilities

nTIDE  Comparison of  People with & without disabilities (January 2018 & 2019)Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire release nTIDE Report – Monthly Update – with a focus on representing disability in the entertainment industry and the employment initiative Lights! Camera! Action! 2.0

Durham, NH – Economic indicators for Americans with disabilities  were flat in January, while those for people without disabilities increased , according to today’s National Trends in Disability Employment – Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD). During “awards season” national attention focuses on the entertainment industry, and a hot topic is the under representation of diversity, including the largest minority group – the 20% of Americans with disabilities.  

In the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Jobs Report released Friday, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities decreased slightly from 29.9 percent in January 2018 to 29.8 percent in January 2019 (down 0.3 percent or 0.1 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio increased from 72.7 percent in January 2018 to 73.6 percent in January 2019 (up 1.2 percent or 0.9 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 January 2019, among workers ages 16-64, the 4,543,000 workers with disabilities represented 3.1 percent of the total 145,066,000 workers in the U.S.

“While the lack of increase is disappointing, the significance of this flattening of the economic indicators in January remains to be seen,” according to John O’Neill, PhD, director of employment and disability research at Kessler Foundation. “In 2019 let’s hope we return to the pattern we saw from February 2016 until May 2018 where there was steady improvement in the employment situation for people with disabilities.”

The labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities was 33 percent in January 2018 and remained at the same level (33 percent) in January 2019. For working-age people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate increased from 76.1 percent in Jan. 2018 to 76.9 percent in January 2019 (up 1.1 percent or 0.8 percentage points). The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the population that is working or actively looking for work.

Efforts are underway to promote the hiring of people with disabilities for the broad range of careers in media − creative and technical, in front of the camera and behind the scenes – opportunities that are often out of reach for people with disabilities. Leading efforts to boost employment in the industry is Tari Hartman Squire, CEO of EIN SOF Communications, a strategic marketing firm specializing in disability employment and the media. “Here we are, 28 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act and 38 years after disability was included in the Affirmative Action and Non-Discrimination clause of the SAG Collective Bargaining Agreements, and we are still advocating for performers with disabilities to audition for any roles,” said Hartman Squire. “Even for roles for characters with disability, too often performers with disabilities are not auditioned. We are making progress by promoting awareness that people with disabilities are interested in media and popular culture, and have talent to offer the industry,” she emphasized. 

Hartman Squire is a co-founder of Lights! Camera! Access 2.0 (LCA 2.0), a collaborative that connects aspiring filmmakers and professionals with disabilities. Regional Career Exploration Summits are the cornerstone of LCA 2.0, connecting employers in television, film, theater, advertising, broadcast, and print and digital media with jobseekers with creative talents. Held in major US cities, Summit workshops feature networking, self-disclosure, how to leverage your disability to sharpen your competitive edge, and opportunities for resume review, speed interviewing, flash mentoring, and networking.

LCA 2.0 receives collaborative support from EIN SOF and LCA 2.0 co-founder, the Loreen Arbus Foundation, as well as the National Disability Mentoring Coalition, PolicyWorks, Deaf Film Camp, and numerous agencies, corporations and disability organizations, including Kessler Foundation, CBS, BBDO, NY Women in Film & Television, ReelAbilities Film Festival, Ruderman Family Foundation and the Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy and Innovation, to name a few.

Why focus efforts on such a competitive industry? “Diversification of the media industry is an important path toward putting old stereotypes to rest,” responded Hartman Squire, “while underscoring the tremendous capabilities of people with disabilities, and highlighting their valuable contributions to the creative arts.”

Upcoming LCA 2.0 Summits will be held in Hollywood on February 20 (application deadline February 8 --  https://bit.ly/2RJT3WI), New York City on April 3, 2019, in conjunction with ReelAbilities Film Festival NY, and in Silicon Valley on May 17, 2019, hosted by the Computer History Museum, Disability Media Technology Alliance and the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce.

Join our nTIDE Lunch & Learn series today, February 1, at 12:00 pm Eastern. This live broadcast, hosted via Zoom Webinar, offers attendees Q&A on the latest nTIDE findings, provides news and updates from the field, as well as invited panelists to discuss current disability-related findings and events., Tari Hartman Squire from EIN SOF Communications, and Alec Frazier from Autistic Reality, join Dr. Brucker, Dr. O’Neill, and Denise Rozell, Policy Strategist at AUCD, to discuss employment opportunities in media and entertainment. Join live or watch the recordings at: www.ResearchonDisability.org/nTIDE.

“Followers of nTIDE will be interested in the upcoming Employment Policy and Measurement State of the Science conference on February 12, 2019, presented by the University of New Hampshire, Kessler Foundation, and their partners,” noted Debra Brucker, PhD, research assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire. “While the event will be held in Washington, D.C., both in-person and online participation options are available. Registration is free. For more information, please see this link: https://researchondisability.org/2018reg.”

NOTE: The statistics in the nTIDE are based on Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers but are not identical. They are customized by UNH to 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 and 90RT5017) and Kessler Foundation.