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nTIDE Jobs Report: Steady Job Numbers May Signal Start of Turnaround for People With Disabilities

by Anna Brennan-Curry | Apr 01, 2016

Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire release nTIDE Report for March – Monthly Update

DURHAM, NH – April 1, 2016. The two major economic indicators remained steady for people with disabilities, which may signal the beginnings of a turnaround, according to today's National Trends in Disability Employment – Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD). Strategies that keep employees in the workplace benefit employers and taxpayers, as well as people with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy provides resources for employers and employees that help workers affected by unexpected illness or injuries stay on the job or return to work as soon as possible.

National Trends in Disability Employment: Comparison of People with and without disabilities - March 2015 & March 2016

In the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Jobs Report released Friday, April 1, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased slightly from 27.2 percent in March 2015 to 27.3 percent in March 2016 (up 0.4 percent; 0.1 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also increased slightly from 71.7 percent in March 2015 to 72.5 percent in March 2016 (up 1.1 percent; 0.8 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).

“These are very modest changes,” said Andrew Houtenville, Ph.D., associate professor of economics at UNH. “Compared to this time last year, the employment of people with disabilities hasn’t changed very much.”

Learn more about today’s results at the new Lunch & Learn webinar series, starting today, April 1 at 12:00PM EST at www.ResearchonDisability.org/nTIDE.

The labor force participation rate of people with disabilities decreased slightly from 31.1 percent in March 2015 to 31.0 percent in March 2016 (down 0.3 percent; 0.1 percentage points). For people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate increased slightly from 75.8 percent in March 2015 to 76.3 percent in March 2016 (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.

“The employment to population ratio for people with disabilities showed no change,” according to John O’Neill, Ph.D., director of employment and disability research at Kessler Foundation. “This could be considered positive news considering the decline in this matric over the past six months. Let’s hope that this is a sign of good news to come in the remainder of 2016.”

Programs that help individuals stay at work or return to work after disabling illnesses or injuries are beneficial and cost-effective ways to counter high rates of unemployment among Americans with disabilities. Intervening early in the individuals’ rehabilitative care can increase the likelihood of maintaining employment. Incorporating vocational services early means coordinating rehabilitative care with the services of federal, state and local vocational agencies. One such program is being funded by a research grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation to Kessler Foundation. Dr. O’Neill and Trevor Dyson-Hudson, MD, director of Spinal Cord Injury Research, are the study’s co-principal investigators.

In this pilot study, vocational services will be provided at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation for 50 in-patients with spinal cord injury, a population with a low rate of returning to work. “We need to know more about the types of services that individuals with spinal cord injury need to return to the workplace,” noted Dr. O’Neill. “Through this study, which is based on early intervention and extended vocational rehabilitation services, we will gain valuable information on what they need to stay in the workplace.”

In collaboration with the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services and United Spinal Association, the Kessler team plans to place a minimum of 30 individuals in competitive employment. “Our goal is to develop a sustainable program with successful employment outcomes that can be replicated nationwide,” said Dr. Dyson-Hudson.

In March 2016, among workers ages 16-64, the 4,282,000 workers with disabilities represented 3.0 percent of the total 141,813,000 workers in the U.S.

The next nTIDE will be issued on Friday, May 6, 2016.

Join our new Lunch & Learn series, starting today, April 1 at 12:00PM EST—no fooling. This live broadcast hosted via Zoom Webinar will offer attendees Q&A on the latest nTIDE findings, provide news and updates from the field of Disability Employment, as well as host invited panelists to discuss current disability related findings and events. You can join live, or watch the recordings at www.ResearchonDisability.org/nTIDE.

NOTE: The statistics in the National Trends in Disability Employment – Update are based on Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, but are NOT identical. They have been customized by the University of New Hampshire to efficiently 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) (90RT5017-02-00 & H133B120005) and Kessler Foundation.

About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for 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 NIDILRR-funded Employment Policy and Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, visit www.ResearchonDisability.org.

For more information, or to interview an expert, contact:
Carolann Murphy, 973.324.8382, CMurphy@KesslerFoundation.org

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