Examines the labor market participation rates of disabled people at the national and state levels and discusses how current federal policy affects this rate.

“The U.S. labor force participation rate has shrunk rapidly and persistently over the past few decades. In the past dozen years, the labor force participation rate for adults of working age (21–65) fell by 3.3%, to 75% —meaning that fewer adults are working or actively looking for jobs. Nearly one third of those who haven’t sought work or who stopped trying to find it are people with disabilities. And although overall U.S. unemployment rates are nearly back to normal after the Great Recession that began in 2007, millions of working-age adults with disabilities are willing to work but do not have jobs and do not count as unemployed. This situation leaves the United States with an even smaller pool of workers to support the recovering economy” (p.1).

“Despite the array of federal policies, executive orders, and incentive programs intended to increase employment and employability of people with disabilities, labor market outcomes have not improved for this population in more than 40 years. The growing number of discouraged workers with disabilities may be a result of policies that unintentionally make it easier to leave the workforce or stay out altogether. In addition, current policy typically addresses people with disabilities as one homogenous group. However, people with disabilities require different types and levels of accommodations and the cost of providing vocational rehabilitation and employment-specific services varies by disability type as well.

Does this one-size-fits-all policy approach mask important distinctions regarding the labor participation of people with different types of disabilities? To find out, [the authors] examined labor market outcomes for this population by disability type at both the national and state levels” (p.3). “To carry out this analysis, [the authors] used data from the 2008–2013 American Community Survey (ACS), a national survey conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau to provide demographic, economic, and housing data on a nationally representative sample of U.S. residents… [their] analysis focused on labor market outcomes of people with disabilities for the past 6 years” (p.3).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)