RespectAbility Report: Tenfold Decrease in Job Gains for People With Disabilities

Only 29,893 people with disabilities entered the workforce in 2018, a tenfold decrease compared to 343,000+ new jobs in 2016.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Job gains among Americans with disabilities have dramatically fallen compared to previous growth. The Disability Statistics Compendium, released earlier this month by the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire, shows the national disability employment rate has only risen to 37.6 percent compared to 37 percent last year.

Out of more than 20 million working-age (18-64) people with disabilities, only 7.6 million have jobs. A serious gap remains in the Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) between people with and without disabilities. In 2018, 37.6 percent of working-age U.S. civilians with disabilities living in the community had a job, compared to 77.2 percent for people without disabilities. There is a stunning 40-point gap in employment outcomes between people with and without disabilities. Even as other minority groups are entering the workforce in larger numbers, people with disabilities are left behind.

The nonpartisan disability group RespectAbility compared this year's Compendium to previous years. What they found is, nationwide, there were only 29,893 new jobs for people with disabilities in 2018. This is a precipitous drop from the previous year's increase of more than 111,000 new jobs and a tenfold decrease compared to the 343,000 new jobs experienced by people with disabilities in 2016.

While job gains nationwide are down for job seekers with disabilities, some states are succeeding at getting more people with disabilities jobs. More than half of all people with disabilities in North Dakota and South Dakota are employed, compared to only 28 percent of West Virginians with disabilities.

Only 26 of 50 states saw more people with disabilities entering the workforce. California is emblematic of the struggle to get more people with disabilities into the workforce. As documented by RespectAbility last year, more than 19,000 Californians with disabilities gained new jobs in 2017. However, those gains have been wiped out with a net loss of more than 21,000 workers with disabilities leaving the workforce and widening the gap in employment rates.

By contrast, Arizona saw the largest single job gain among people with disabilities in 2018. 17,419 Arizonans with disabilities got jobs in 2018, putting the Grand Canyon State far ahead of the rest of the country on getting people with disabilities into the workforce.

Clear goals and inter-agency cooperation in Florida resulted in 9,802 new jobs. Florida consistently had some of the biggest job gains among workers with disabilities each year. Florida's efforts are coordinated by the Florida Agency for People with Disabilities, a major state agency with written agreements and specific goals. 

RespectAbility CEO Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi said: "Persistence and accountability are crucial to close the gap in labor force participation rates between people with and without disabilities. Hiring people with disabilities is great for employers too."

Media Contact:
Lauren Appelbaum
LaurenA@RespectAbility.org
202-517-6272

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Top 10 States for Disability Employment
This map shows the top 10 states with the lowest employment gap between people with and without disabilities.

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SOURCE RespectAbility