By Kyle Ingram
People with disabilities experience substantially different employment outcomes than the general population of the United States.
According to monthly statistics reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with disabilities are currently participating in the labor force at less than a third the rate of people without disabilities, at 19.5 percent to 68.2 percent, respectively.
Furthermore people with disabilities experienced a 12.5 percent unemployment rate in February 2016, which is almost three times the unemployment rate for people without disabilities of 4.9 percent.
These poor employment outcomes impede efforts to achieve economic stability and contribute to nearly 1-in-3 people with disabilities living below the poverty line.
To assist states, NCSL provides research, resources, and legislative tracking to state legislatures looking to improve the employment and economic independence of their residents with disabilities.
As part of this, NCSL is also partnering with the Council of State Governments to convene a joint task force of state policymakers to work on address this issue. This joint effort, called the National Task Force on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities, is being mounted in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy through its State Exchange on Employment and Disability initiative. The work of the task force begins this month and will explore how state-level policy can help bridge the employment gap.
As the National Task Force members gather to talk about this important issue, we believe it's critically important that members have the opportunity to learn about the experiences of colleagues in other states.
You, as an NCSL constituent, are invited to play a key role in helping us identify key policies, effective practices, and potential challenges to increasing the employment of people with disabilities through an online dialogue, Advancing State Policy for a More Inclusive Workforce, which runs until Friday, April 15, 2016.
We hope you will join us in our efforts by registering for this online dialogue and sharing details about your efforts and experiences around disability employment-related policy. We look forward to your participation—and working to foster more inclusive workplaces and communities in the months and years to come.
Kyle Ingram is a policy specialist with NCSL's Environment, Energy and Transportation program. He primarily covers disability employment issues.