Disability unemployment rate hits 11.9 percent

Two signs one saying employment and one saying unemployment
Unemployment rates rise for workers with disabilities

Although the overall U.S. unemployment rate continued its downward trend in the first month of 2015, its a different story for people with disabilities seeking to compete in the marketplace.

Nationwide, the economy added 257,000 jobs in January, as the unemployment rate decreased from 5.9 to 5.7 percent.

However, during the same period, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities jumped from 11.2 percent to 11.9 percent.

The latest statistics, released February 6, come from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor statistics.

The unemployment rate tracks only workers who are considered part of the labor force, meaning they have been employed within the past year. People receiving long-term benefits, such as Social Security Disability Insurance, are not considered part of the labor force.

While there is normally a significant difference between the unemployment rate between people with and without disabilities, the difference in the overall labor force participation rate, which tracks the percentage of people considered part of the work force, is normally far more stark. The latest statistics show that the labor force participation rate is 19.6 percent for people with disabilities, compared to 68.2 percent for people without disabilities.

For more background on employment challenges affecting people with disabilities, a video from Michael Bailey, former president of the National Disability Rights Network, can be seen here.

Disability Rights Washington, the publisher of DisAbility Rights Galaxy, is the protection and advocacy system for Washington State, and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.