People With Disabilities Buck Cooling Trend, Reaching New Employment Highs

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People with disabilities reached new highs for both employment-to-population ratio and labor force participation, bucking the economy’s cooling trend, according to today’s National Trends in Disability Employment – semi-monthly update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD). In comparison, these economic indicators remained flat for people without disabilities.

Month-to-Month nTIDE Numbers (comparing October 2023 to November 2023)

Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Jobs Report released Friday, the employment-to-population ratio for people with disabilities (ages 16-64) increased from 37.2 percent in October 2023 to 38.3 percent in November 2023 (up 3.0 percent or 1.1 percentage points). For people without disabilities (ages 16-64), the employment-to-population ratio increased from 75.2 percent in October 2023 to 75.3 percent in November 2023 (up 0.1 percent or 0.1 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 November, the employment-to-population ratio for people with disabilities reached an all-time high, topping 38 percent for the first time since the data started being collected in 2008,” according to John O’Neill, PhD, director of the Center for Employment and Disability Research at Kessler Foundation. “This is excellent news particularly considering that the employment trend for people without disabilities remains flat,” he added.

Similarly, the labor force participation rate for people with disabilities (ages 16-64) increased from 40.4 percent in October 2023 to 41.5 percent in November 2023 (up 2.7 percent or 1.1 percentage points). For people without disabilities (ages 16-64), the labor force participation rate decreased from 78 percent in October 2023 to 77.8 percent in November 2023 (down 0.3 percent or 0.2 percentage points). The labor force participation rate reflects the percentage of people who are in the labor force (working, on temporary layoff (on furlough), or actively looking for work in the last four weeks) relative to the total population (the number of people in the labor force divided by the number of people in the total population multiplied by 100).

“While the overall economy is cooling, people with disabilities are engaging in the labor force at record rates,” said Andrew Houtenville, PhD, professor of economics and research director of the UNH-IOD. “Of course, there is a long way to go before the gap between people with and without disabilities is closed,” he emphasized.

Year-to-Year nTIDE Numbers (comparing November 2022 to November 2023)

Compared to this time last year, the employment-to-population ratio for people with disabilities (ages 16-64) increased from 36.5 percent in November 2022 to 38.3 percent in November 2023 (up 4.9 percent or 1.8 percentage points). For people without disabilities (ages 16-64), the employment-to-population ratio also increased from 74.4 percent in November 2022 to 75.3 percent in November 2023 (up 1.2 percent or 0.9 percentage points).

Likewise, the labor force participation rate for people with disabilities (ages 16-64) increased from 38.8 percent in November 2022 to 41.5 percent in November 2023 (up 7.0 percent or 2.7 percentage points). For people without disabilities (ages 16-64), the labor force participation rate also increased from 76.9 percent in November 2022 to 77.8 percent in November 2023 (up 1.2 percent or 0.9 percentage points).

In November, among workers ages 16-64, the 6,460,000 workers with disabilities represented 4.3 percent of the total 150,966,000 workers in the U.S.

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