As we celebrate the Labor Day holiday weekend, there is good news to report: Disability employment is at its highest in decades.
According to the Kessler Foundation’s nTide report, June’s employment-to-population ratio for people with disabilities reached an all-time high of 34.9 percent. Among workers ages 16-64, the 5.8 million workers with disabilities represented 3.9 percent of the total 148 million workers in the U.S.
The pandemic illustrated to employers they could remain productive while employing a remote workforce. There has been a dramatic shift in workplace practices including more virtual work and evolving ideas about the future of work.
We urge employers to continue offering flexible opportunities for people with disabilities to work remotely. These arrangements reduce multiple barriers, increase productivity and allow us to add value to our organizations and our shared national workforce. People with disabilities not only can work, but they want to work. Let’s ensure that everyone has the employment opportunities to match their talents, ambition and potential.
The national workforce shortage, experienced in our country since the pandemic, has driven employers to broaden their efforts to reach out to untapped workforce groups, including the recruitment and hiring of qualified candidates with a disability.
There is an increased focus, as well, on including disability in corporate Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, and we’re seeing more resources and information becoming available to support businesses in this effort.
The American Dream Employment Network (ADEN), managed by NDI, provides supports and services to individuals who receive Social Security disability benefits. More than 1,000 individuals have requested employment support from ADEN while the program has maintained a steady 66 percent placement rate for the past three years by job seekers with disabilities. This has resulted in hundreds of people with disabilities leaving the Social Security disability rolls with earnings of more than $39.5 million, moving them to financial self-sufficiency.
Small business ownership is becoming an increasing option for entrepreneurs with disabilities. NDI will host the virtual Disability Owned Small Business Convening October 25 and 26. Sign up for the Small Business Hub listserv to learn more about the event.
Our entire team at NDI thanks you for standing with us as we work together to change the face of employment and opportunity for people with disabilities. We hope you have a peaceful, safe Labor Day weekend.
– Thomas Foley, Executive Director, National Disability Institute