kess employAccording to a news release from Kessler Foundation, West Orange, NJ, and the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD), July employment data for individuals with disabilities exhibited mixed results. The Trends in Disability Employment—National Monthly Update (TIDE), issued by Kessler and UNH-IOD) indicates that when compared to last year’s data, a smaller percentage of individuals are working, while a higher percentage is engaged in the labor force.

The release reports that in Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “first Friday” data, released August 2, the employment-to-population ratio decreased from 26.9% in July 2012 to 26.4% in July 2013 for working-age individuals with disabilities.

Andrew Houtenville, PhD, UNH-IOD professor of economics, notes that the change suggests a lesser proportion of individuals with disabilities are working, “For people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio increased from 70.9% in July 2012 to 71.4% in July 2013 (up 0.7 %; 0.5 percentage points),” Houtenville says.Researchers explain that the employment-to-population ratio reflects the percentage of individuals who are working relative to the total population.

Yet, the release notes that labor force participation rate results were positive for individuals with disabilities. The results suggest that the rate increased from 31.5% in July 2012 to 31.7% in July 2013. The labor force participation rate is reportedly the percentage of individuals who are working or actively looking for work. A small decrease was exhibited among individuals without disabilities, from 77.4% to 77.2%.

“More people with disabilities are becoming more engaged in the labor force, which is encouraging. It is unclear however, whether they are finding jobs,” John O’Neill, PhD, Kessler Foundation’s director of Employment and Disability Research states.The percent actively seeking work also increased slightly for individuals with disabilities, rising from 4.7% in July 2012 to 5.3% in July 2013.

Houtenville adds that the results reflect the entry of individuals with disabilities into the labor force, “and fewer people with disabilities are working.”

The percentage of individuals without disabilities looking for work decreased from 6.5% in July 2012 to 5.8% in July 2013, the release states. The percentage seeking work reflects the individuals who are looking for work relative to the total population.

O’Neill emphasizes that since the data for individuals with need to be adjusted seasonally, it should be interpreted with caution. O’Neill notes that the adjustment will be integrated later this year.

Researchers point out that the TIDE Update issued on July 5 also indicated mixed results in the engage of individuals with disabilities in the workforce, as suggested by a rise in labor force participation but a decline in the percentage that are working.

The next TIDE Update is slated for September 6.

Source(s): Kessler Foundation, The Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire