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Jobs Report Suggests People With Disabilities Left Behind in April Surge

Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire Release May nTIDE Report - Monthly Update

WEST ORANGE, NJ -- (Marketwired) -- 05/02/14 -- April jobs report suggests that Americans with disabilities are being left behind as the economy begins to surge, 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). Numerous efforts are underway in the private and public sectors to narrow the employment gap between people with and without disabilities.

In the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Jobs Report released Friday, May 2, the employment-to-population ratio decreased from 27.3 percent in April 2013 to 25.3 percent in April 2014 (down 7.3 percent; 2.0 percentage points) for working-age people with disabilities. For people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio increased from 70.6 percent in April 2013 to 71.4 percent in April 2014 (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).

"This morning's report is very positive for the overall economy, but the numbers we are tracking show that employment of people with disabilities continues to decline," according to John O'Neill, Ph.D., Kessler Foundation's Director of Employment and Disability Research. "It appears that people with disabilities are being left out of the recovery from the Great Recession."

However, the creation of social enterprises that combine good business sense with a nonprofit mission of employing people with disabilities is a growing movement in creating job opportunities for Americans with disabilities. Hudson Community Enterprises (HCE), based in Jersey City, N.J., is a document management social enterprise that provides scanning, shredding, archiving, digital mail and microfiche services to clients and 70 percent of its workforce is comprised of people with disabilities.

"Since 2005, Kessler Foundation has awarded five grants to Hudson Community Enterprises to expand its business and purchase new equipment which, in turn, creates more job opportunities for people with disabilities," said Rodger DeRose, president and chief executive officer of Kessler Foundation. "The electronic records management business of HCE started with ten employees. With Foundation funding, it grew into a 125-employee division. In total, more than 300 employees work in HCE's various social enterprise businesses, where they earn market wages, receive comprehensive benefits packages and have opportunities for advancement. These individuals are sharing their skills, becoming financially self-sufficient, contributing to the economy and getting off of government benefits. HCE exemplifies the success that results from nonprofits providing financial support to disability employment initiatives."

According to April's jobs data, the percentage of people with disabilities looking for work decreased, from 4.5 percent in April 2013 to 4.1 percent in April 2014 (down 8.9 percent; 0.4 percentage points). This percentage is the number of people looking for work divided by the number of people in the total population multiplied by 100). For people without disabilities, the percentage looking for work also declined from 5.3 percent in April 2013 to 4.3 percent in April 2014 (down 18.8 percent; 1.0 percentage points).

"Fewer people with disabilities are actively searching for work compared to this time last year," according to Andrew Houtenville, Ph.D., UNH-IOD Associate Professor of Economics. "Combined with the decline in the employment-to-population ratio, this really provides a bleak picture for the inclusion of people with disabilities in the American Economy going forward."

In April 2014, among workers ages 16-64, the 3,910,000 workers with disabilities represented 2.8 percent of the total 137,722,000 workers in the U.S.

"The figures in nTIDE are not seasonally adjusted," noted Dr. O'Neill. "The collection of disability employment statistics began a few years ago, and it will take some time for seasonal trends to become evident."

The next nTIDE will be issued on Friday, June 6, 2014.

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 a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (H133B130015 & 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 NIDRR-funded Employment Policy and Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, visit http://www.ResearchonDisability.org.

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