"The collection of disability employment statistics began a few years ago, and it will take some time for seasonal trends to become evident."
When compared with last year's data, a smaller percentage of people with disabilities is working and fewer are participating in the labor force, while a higher percentage are looking for work, according to today's Trends in Disability Employment - National Monthly Update (TIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD).
In Bureau of Labor Statistics' "first-Friday" data released Friday, September 6, the employment-to-population ratio decreased from 27.0 percent in August 2012 to 26.4 percent in August 2013 (down 2.2 percent; 0.6 percentage points) for working-age people with disabilities.
"This change indicates that a lesser proportion of people with disabilities are working, which is consistent with last month's TIDE report," added Andrew Houtenville, Ph.D., UNH-IOD Associate Professor of Economics. "This was not true for people without disabilities."
For people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio increased slightly from 70.5 percent in August 2012 to 71.0 percent in August 2013 (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).
Furthermore, the labor force participation rate results were also disappointing for people with disabilities.
The rate decreased from 31.9 percent in August 2012 to 31.4 percent in August 2013 (down 1.6 percent; 0.5 percentage points). The labor force participation rate is the percentage of people who are working or actively looking for work. Only a slight decrease was seen among people without disabilities - from 76.6 percent to 76.5 percent (down 0.1 percent; 0.1 percentage points). "Fewer people with disabilities are engaged in the labor force, which is discouraging," according to John O'Neill, Ph.D., Kessler Foundation's Director of Employment and Disability Research.
In addition, the percent actively looking for work increased slightly for people with disabilities, from 4.8 percent in August 2012 to 5.0 percent in August 2013 (up 3.3 percent; 0.2 percentage points). "This reflects that some of the people with disabilities that are losing their jobs are looking for work. The decline in the labor force participation rate means that the percentage looking is not going up because people are re-entering the labor force," said Dr. Houtenville. In contrast, for people without disabilities the percentage looking for work decreased from 6.2 percent in August 2012 to 5.5 percent in August 2013 (down 10.6 percent; 0.7 percentage points). The percent looking for work reflects the percentage of people who are looking for work relative to the total population (the number of people looking for work divided by the number of people in the total population multiplied by 100).
"These numbers are not seasonally adjusted," noted Dr. O'Neill. "The collection of disability employment statistics began a few years ago, and it will take some time for seasonal trends to become evident."
Last month's TIDE Update, issued on August 2, 2013, suggested mixed results in the engagement of people with disabilities in the workforce, as indicated by a rise in labor force participation but a decline in the percentage that were working. The next Trends in Disability Employment - National Update will be issued on Friday, October 4, 2013.
Trends in Disability Employment - National Update is funded, in part, by a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (H133B120006), and Kessler Foundation.
About Kessler Foundation: Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability research and employment, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition and mobility for people with multiple sclerosis, brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, and other disabling conditions. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for job training and employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit 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 NIDRR-funded Employment Policy and Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, visit www.researchondisability.org
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