ISSN 2330-717X

US Job Numbers Show Resilience Among Workers With Disabilities

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The August job numbers rose for people with disabilities in contrast to declines for people without disabilities, according to Friday’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). This improvement may be a sign of resilience among workers with disabilities, who have continued striving to work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Jobs Report released Friday, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 30.8 percent in July to 31.5 percent in August 2021 (up 2.3 percent or 0.7 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio decreased slightly from 73.4 percent in July to 72.9 percent in August 2021 (down 0.7 percent or 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).

“This upward movement may be related to rising vaccination rates and people with disabilities feeling safer returning to the labor market,” said John O’Neill, PhD, director of the Center for Employment and Disability Research at Kessler Foundation. “This is a reversal of the minor decline in the employment-to-population ratio we saw last month for people with disabilities,” he added.

The labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities increased from 35.2 percent in July to 35.6 percent in August 2021 (up 1.1 percent or 0.4 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate also decreased from 77.6 percent in July to 76.8 percent in August 2021 (down 1.0 percent or 0.8 percentage points). The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the population that is working, not working and on temporary layoff, or not working and actively looking for work.

“Throughout the course of the pandemic, people with disabilities have demonstrated tremendous resilience as evidenced by the strength of their labor force participation,” said Andrew Houtenville, PhD, professor of economics and the research director of the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability. “Given this resilience, we expect people with disabilities to strive to remain in the labor force (working, looking for work, or on furlough),” he added, “even as the Delta variant spreads, and many social distancing requirements are reinstated.”

Year-to-Year nTIDE Numbers (comparison to the same time last year)

The employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 28.8 percent in August 2020 to 31.5 percent in August 2021 (up 9.4 percent or 2.7 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also increased from 69.7 percent in August 2020 to 72.9 percent in August 2021 (up 4.6 percent or 3.2 percentage points).

The labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities increased from 33.6 percent in August 2020 to 35.6 percent in August 2021 (up 6 percent or 2 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate also increased from 76.1 percent in August 2020 to 76.8 percent in August 2021 (up 0.9 percent or 0.7 percentage points).

In August 2021, among workers ages 16-64, the 4,932,000 workers with disabilities represented 3.4 percent of the total 143,071,000 workers in the U.S.                                                                                

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