- The unemployment rate for the persons with a disability in 2016 remained the same from the previous year at 10.5%, while the rate for those without a disability dropped to 4.6%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- According to BLS, 17.9% of persons with a disability were employed in 2016 compared with a 65.3% rate for workers without a disability. The Department of Labor collected data from a monthly sample of 60,000 households between 2015 and 2016 as part of the Current Population Survey. The data collected on persons with a disability was sponsored by the DOL's Office of Disability Employment Policy.
- Survey data also showed that almost 50% of persons with a disability were 65 or older; 34% of workers with a disability were employed part time, compared with 18% of workers without a disability; and jobless rates for persons with disabilities were higher than those for persons without disabilities, despite their educational levels.
With unemployment at a record low, the rate for workers with a disability should have decreased as well. That the unemployment rate for such workers is instead double the national unemployment rate indicates there is work to be done in workplaces to create both greater accessibility and better hiring practices.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued regulations earlier this year for federal agencies to hire more persons with a disability. The EEOC set hiring goals for federal agencies of 12% for workers with a disability and 2% for those with "targeted" disabilities. Targeted disabilities are defined as including paralysis, blindness, deafness, convulsive disorders and mental illness, and are often viewed as barriers to employment.
Although the EEOC regulations don't apply to state, local or private-sector employers, workplaces can set similar hiring goals for their own diversity initiatives. Recruiters and HR staff, in general, should think about both hiring practices and workplace practices that could be creating barriers to expanding the workforce to include more workers with disabilities.