WEST ORANGE, N.J., Oct. 7, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- For the sixth consecutive month economic indicators rose for Americans with disabilities, according to today's National Trends in Disability Employment – Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD). During National Disability Awareness Month, we celebrate progress being made throughout the U.S. by employers who have recognized that inclusion works. Eighteen such companies, from a variety of industries, were selected for 2016 Best in Business awards in a national competition based on their successes in integrating people with disabilities in their workplaces. This was the second annual competition sponsored by the Ruderman Family Foundation, in partnership with The Jewish Week Media Group.
In the Bureau of Labor Statistics Jobs Report released Friday, October 7, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 26.5 percent in September 2015 to 28 percent in September 2016 (up 5.7 percent; 1.5 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also increased from 72.3 percent in September 2015 to 73.0 percent in September 2016 (up 1 percent; 0.7 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).
"The improvement in the proportion of people with disabilities working continues to outpace improvements made by people without disabilities." according to John O'Neill, PhD, director of employment and disability research at Kessler Foundation. "While six consecutive months of employment growth for people with disabilities is very encouraging news, it does not mean we are out of the woods," he added. "There is still a long way to go before people with disabilities reach their pre-Great Recession employment levels, not to mention parity with people without disabilities."
The labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities increased from 29.8 percent in September 2015 to 31 percent in September 2016 (up 4 percent; 1.2 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate increased slightly from 75.8 percent in September 2015 to 76.5 percent in September 2016 (up 0.9 percent; 0.7 percentage points). The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the population that is working or actively looking for work.
"It is great to see both the employment-to-population ratio and the labor force participation rate going up," said Andrew Houtenville, PhD., associate professor of economics at UNH. "All together, more people with disabilities have jobs and more people with disabilities are engaging in the labor market, looking for work."
The hundreds of nominations for this year's Best in Business awards were judged by an expert panel that included Richard Marriott, chairman of Host Hotels & Resorts, journalist John Hockenberry, Rich Donovan, CEO of The Return on Disability Group, Elizabeth Taub of the U.S. Business Leadership Network, and Elaine E. Katz, MS, senior VP of Grants and Communications at Kessler Foundation. The top 18 companies represent a diverse group with a common bond – a commitment to a diverse workforce that includes people with disabilities. "The winning businesses include food service and grocery chains, auto sales and ride-sharing enterprises, pharmaceutical firms and retail outlets, package delivery and real estate management," said Katz. "It's good to see such a variety of companies finding talent in a traditionally untapped labor pool to advance business goals in this increasingly competitive marketspace. They are reaping the benefits of lower turnover and higher productivity, while providing jobs for people who are striving to work." Two of the Foundation grantees are among the winners, Katz noted. "In partnership with Community Options, we provided major funding to Uber in Pittsburgh to expand ride-sharing options, and through United Way of Allegheny County, we support Giant Eagle's program for transitioning students with disabilities to competitive employment."
In September 2016, among workers ages 16-64, the 4,446,000 workers with disabilities represented 3.1 percent of the total 142,921000 workers in the U.S.
The next nTIDE will be issued on Friday, November 4, 2016.
Join our nTIDE Lunch & Learn series, starting today, October 7 at 12:00PM EST. This live broadcast hosted via Zoom Webinar will offer attendees Q&A on the latest nTIDE findings, provide news and updates from the field of Disability Employment, as well as host-invited panelists to discuss current disability-related findings and events. Mary V.L. Wright, Senior Director for Demand Side Engagement & Analytics at Jobs for the Future joins Drs. O'Neill and Michael Gamel-McCormick to discuss today's findings. You can join live, or watch the recordings at www.ResearchonDisability.org/nTIDE.
NOTE: The statistics in the National Trends in Disability Employment – Update are based on Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, but are NOT identical. They have been customized by the University of New Hampshire to efficiently combine the statistics for men and women of working age (16 to 64).
nTIDE is funded, in part, by grants from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) (90RT5022-02-00 & 90RT5017) and Kessler Foundation.
About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit www.KesslerFoundation.org.
About the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire
The Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) was established in 1987 to provide a coherent university-based focus for the improvement of knowledge, policies, and practices related to the lives of persons with disabilities and their families. For information on the NIDILRR-funded Employment Policy and Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, visit www.ResearchonDisability.org.
For more information, or to interview an expert, contact:
Carolann Murphy, 973.324.8382, CMurphy@KesslerFoundation.org
A photo accompanying this release is available at: http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=41626
Carolann Murphy, 973.324.8382,