Unemployment declined again in May for people with disabilities, while people without disabilities saw a slight increase, according to Friday’s National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) COVID Update. The May data should be interpreted with caution in light of ongoing actions by the Federal Reserve to curb inflation, noted  nTIDE expert Andrew Houtenville, PhD, professor of economics at the University of Hampshire (UNH) and research director of the UNH Institute on Disability.

“This month’s job data are positive for people with disabilities, but we would need to see months of sustained declines in unemployment in order to reach pre-pandemic levels,” said Dr. Houtenville. “Counter inflationary measures are likely to dampen hiring,” he cautioned, “but the effects will take time to percolate through the labor market. The uptick in unemployment among people without disabilities could be an early sign of recessionary reactions,” he added, “and we will be watching this closely.”

Jobseekers entering the labor market for the first time will feel the brunt of any slowdown in hiring. “Given the current relatively stable employment picture, people intending to enter the workforce should intensify their efforts now while opportunities abound and hiring remains strong,” advised Elaine E. Katz, MS, CCC-SLP, senior vice president of Grants and Communications at Kessler Foundation.

Field Notes − News from Job Path NYC

Economic recovery continues in New York City, but the evolving job market is affecting placements by Job Path NYC, a nonprofit that provides customized employment services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. nTIDE co-author John O’Neill, PhD, director of the Center for Employment and Disability Employment Research at Kessler Foundation, shared his perspective as a board member of Job Path NYC. “Customized back-office jobs like mailroom, shredding, and filing are becoming increasingly automated and some jobs are being eliminated,” reported Dr. O’Neill. Downsizing is also affecting some workers who were employed at schools. “Hopefully, some of these jobs may come back in the fall,” he added.

Theaters, retail, and food services are the bright spots, according to Dr. O’Neill. “Demand continues to rise in these sectors, providing opportunities for less skilled individuals, and the potential for hiring to continue into the fall.”     

For in-depth analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment trends, see the recent nTIDE Special Edition: Workers with disabilities overcome pandemic setbacks, outpacing people without disabilities to set new records for employment.

Upcoming nTIDE Webinars

Each nTIDE release is followed by a Lunch & Learn webinar at 12:00 pm ET, featuring nTIDE experts Andrew Houtenville, PhD, and John O’Neill, PhD. Register for upcoming webinars, and view the nTIDE archives here: nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar Series | Center for Research on Disability

[Source(s): Kessler Foundation, EurekAlert]