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April 2017 nTIDE Jobs Report: Upward Trend Continues with Modest Job Gains for Americans with Disabilities

May 5, 2017
Source: Institute on Disability at University of New Hampshire, Research on Disability

Job gains continued for Americans with disabilities at a more modest rate, according to todays National Trends in Disability Employment – Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshires Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD). This encouraging trend has extended to 13 months. Transitioning to civilian employment remains a challenge for many veterans, especially veterans with disabilities. Community-based organizations are succeeding in partnering with businesses to help veterans find competitive jobs.

In the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Jobs Report released Friday, May 5, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 27.9 percent in April 2016 to 28.2 percent in April 2017 (up 1.1 percent; 0.3 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also increased from 72.6 percent in April 2016 to 73.6 percent in April 2017 (up 1.4 percent; 1 percentage point). 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 for the 13th consecutive month, although the magnitude of the gains is not as great as we have seen recently,” according to John ONeill, PhD, director of employment and disability research at Kessler Foundation. “This employment growth remains encouraging and shows people with disabilities are striving to work as they move toward pre-Great Recession employment levels,” he added.

The labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities increased from 31.6 percent in April 2016 to 32.0 percent in April 2017 (up 1.3 percent; 0.4 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate also increased from 76.1 percent in April 2016 to 76.6 percent in April 2017 (up 0.7 percent; 0.5 percentage points). The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the population that is working or actively looking for work.

“While the employment gains of people with disabilities did not outpace the employment gains of people without disabilities, labor force participation increased by a greater percentage for people with disabilities. This is a positive sign for the engagement of people with disabilities in the economy,” said Andrew Houtenville, PhD, associate professor of economics at UNH, and research director at the Institute on Disability.

Since May is Military Appreciation Month, our focus is on outreach that benefits veterans with disabilities. The GI Go Fund, a New Jersey-based nonprofit, reaches out into the community to address veterans needs for comprehensive services, including jobs. Through partnerships with major corporations and seed funding from Kessler Foundation, 50 veterans with disabilities were placed in home-based customer service positions through their Disabled Veterans to Work Program.

“Because of this Programs success here in New Jersey, veterans with disabilities are being hired in cities across the U.S.,” said Elaine E. Katz, senior vice president of grants and communications at Kessler Foundation. “Our relationship with the GI Go Fund has also benefited Kessler Foundations research into the debilitating symptoms of Gulf War Illness,” she noted. “Studying the effects of Gulf War Illness requires enrolling sufficient numbers of Gulf War-era veterans. With their deep connections to the veteran community, the GI Go Fund has referred many participants, helping our scientists explore the underlying mechanisms for the symptoms of cognitive fatigue in these veterans.”

In April 2017, among workers ages 16-64, the 4,509,000 workers with disabilities represented 3.1 percent of the total 143,930,000 workers in the U.S.

The next nTIDE will be issued on Friday, June 2, 2017.

Join our nTIDE Lunch & Learn series today, May 5 at 12:00pm EST. 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. John Butterworth, Director of Employment Systems Change and Evaluation at the Institute for Community Inclusion, joins Drs. Houtenville and ONeill, and Denise Rozell, policy strategist at AUCD, to discuss todays findings. You can join live, or watch the recordings at:

NOTE: The statistics in the National Trends in Disability Employment Update 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).

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