Employment for people with disabilities reaches historic levels

nTIDE October 2021 Jobs Report: Employment for people with disabilities reaches historic levels
This graphic compares the economic indicators for September 2021 and October 2021, showing increases for people with and without disabilities. Credit: Kessler Foundation

In October, the major employment indicators for people with disabilities reached their highest recorded levels since September 2008, when reporting for this cohort was begun by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), according to today'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). Substantial gains were reflected in year-to-year comparisons, as well as for month-to-month data.

nTIDE COVID Update (month-to-month comparison)

In the BLS Jobs Report released Friday, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 32.9 percent in September 2021 to 33.2 percent in October 2021 (up 0.9 percent or 0.3 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also increased from 73.1 percent in September 2021 to 73.5 percent in October 2021 (up 0.5 percent or 0.4 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).

"The employment of people with disabilities is pushing past historic levels, as well as pre-pandemic levels," remarked Andrew Houtenville, Ph.D., professor of economics and the research director of the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability. "The October 2021 employment-to-population ratio of 36.8 percent exceeds the September 2008 employment-to-population ratio of 32.7 percent," he noted, "which is when the BLS first started to officially report employment figures for people with disabilities."

The force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities increased from 36.4 percent in September 2021 to 36.8 percent in October 2021 (up 1.1 percent or 0.4 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate also increased from 76.5 percent in September 2021 to 76.6 percent in October 2021 (up 0.1 percent or 0.1 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.

"Over the last three months, we saw improvement in the labor force participation rate for people with disabilities," said John O'Neill, Ph.D., director of the Center for Employment and Disability Research at Kessler Foundation. "This may be a trend where people with disabilities are more comfortable returning to work as the COVID delta variant comes under control," he added, "and employers continue to offer incentives to attract workers."

nTIDE October 2021 Jobs Report: Employment for people with disabilities reaches historic levels
This graphic compares the economic indicators for October 2020 and October 2021, showing increases for people with and without disabilities. Credit: Kessler Foundation

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 29.2 percent in October 2020 to 33.2 percent in October 2021 (up 13.7 percent or 4 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also increased from 71.3 percent in October 2020 to 73.5 percent in October 2021 (up 3.1 percent or 2.2 percentage points).

The labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities increased from 33.3 percent in October 2020 to 36.8 percent in October 2021 (up 10.5 percent or 3.5 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate also increased from 76.2 percent in October 2020 to 76.6 percent in October 2021 (up 0.5 percent or 0.4 percentage points).

In October 2021, among workers ages 16-64, the 5,186,000 workers with represented 3.6 percent of the total 144,505,000 workers in the U.S.

Provided by Kessler Foundation

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