Hiring the Handicapped. Is your Company ready?
Recently a headline crossed from National Trends in Disability Employment – Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD), as follows:
April 2018 nTIDE Jobs Report: Tight Labor Market Spurs Unprecedented Job Gains for Americans with Disabilities
As today’s tight labor market offers greater opportunities for job seekers with disabilities, there is renewed interest in strategies that help people with disabilities achieve their employment goals.
Individual Placement and Support (IPS) is an evidence-based vocational rehabilitation strategy that is helping people with disabilities achieve their employment goals. Implemented initially in the population with mental health issues, IPS is being tested in individuals with physical disability. Committing resources to evidence-based programs such as IPS will help close the employment gap between people with and without disabilities.
In the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Jobs Report released Friday, May 4, 2018, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 28.2 percent in April 2017 to 30.6 percent in April 2018 (up 8.5 percent; 2.4 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio increased slightly from 73.6 percent in April 2017 to 73.8 percent in April 2018 (up 0.3 percent; 0.2 percentage points). The employment-to-population ratio, a key indicator, reflects the percentage of people who are working relative to the total population (the number of people working divided by the number of people in the total population multiplied by 100).
“People with disabilities seem to be benefiting from the tight labor market as fewer are actively looking for work and more are becoming employed,” according to John O’Neill, PhD, director of employment and disability research at Kessler Foundation. “Despite the past 25 months of positive change, people with disabilities are still striving to reach their pre-Great Recession employment levels,” he noted. “And we need to keep in mind that there is still a long way to go before people with disabilities achieve employment parity with people without disabilities.”
The labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities increased from 32.0 percent in April 2017 to 33.6 percent in April 2018 (up 5 percent; 1.6 percentage points), while the labor force participation rate for working-age people without disabilities remained the same at 76.6 percent. The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the population that is working or actively looking for work.
“It’s really stunning to see the gains made by people with disabilities, and that these gains continue to outpace the gains of people without disabilities. I wish we had monthly data from previous recessions to see if this is something that occurs when the economy is at full employment,” said Andrew Houtenville, PhD, associate professor of economics at UNH and research director of the Institute on Disability.
In April 2018, among workers ages 16-64, the 4,730,000 workers with disabilities represented 3.2 percent of the total 145,652,000 workers in the US.
So, with labor in short supply, is your company ready to take advantage of this pool of available employees and hire people with disabilities (handicapped)? Before you do, you may want to make sure your facilities are ready. The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards), Advisory 203.9, Employee Work Areas, states, “Although areas used exclusively by employees for work are not required to be fully accessible, consider designing such areas to include non-required turning spaces, and provide accessible elements whenever possible. Under the ADA, employees with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations in the workplace; accommodations can include alterations to spaces within the facility. Designing employee work areas to be more accessible at the outset will avoid more costly retrofits when current employees become temporarily or permanently disabled, or when new employees with disabilities are hired.”
Diagram of Knee and Toe Clearance