Individuals with disabilities are re-entering the workforce after years of decline
- Individuals with disabilities were leaving the workforce in numbers so great and for so long that economists thought the trend might never end, the New York Times reports. But it finally appears to be reversing after reaching a peak four years ago, according to the paper.
- The number of prime working-age people, ages 24 to 54, is still one percentage point below pre-Great Recession levels, says NYT, citing U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) numbers. This is due in part to the rise in the number of people who weren't participating in the workforce because of a disability or a health problem. The number of nonworking individuals with disabilities peaked at over 7 million in mid-2014 and now stands at 6.7 million.
- Individuals with disabilities who have at least a high school diploma are more likely to land a job than those with less education, the report says. And older individuals are less likely to find a job than young people, and women were less likely to be working than men.
Employers who are committed to diversity and inclusion — and those facing a serious talent gap — are increasingly looking to this historically untapped talent pool.
Naturally, questions arise concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act when addressing such a talent pool. The law largely shares the same nondiscrimination requirements as other federal employment laws, but also includes an accommodation component. According to the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), however, almost 60% of accommodations cost nothing and the rest generally cost less than $500. The key to accommodation is engaging in an interactive process with an employee to find a reasonable, effective accommodation — and JAN offers free assistance. Additionally, accurate, regularly updated job descriptions will put employers in a good position to begin this process.
Economists have their eyes on the unemployment rate, which is currently holding steady around 4%, while the number of working people with disabilities is rising. To both compete and remain compliant, HR can focus on inclusive hiring and retention practices.
- New York Times Will Employment Keep Growing? Disabled Workers Offer a Clue