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Job Market Rough For People With Disabilities

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Unemployment among Americans with disabilities inched up last month even as the overall job situation appeared to improve, the U.S. Department of Labor said.

Figures released late last week indicate that the jobless rate for people with disabilities rose to 12.9 percent in June. That’s up from 12.7 percent the month prior.

In addition to showing fewer with disabilities on payrolls, the data also suggest that more individuals in this population stopped seeking work altogether.

At the same time, the economy showed signs of improvement, adding 288,000 jobs. Unemployment for the general population dropped to 6.1 percent in June, the Labor Department said.

Federal officials began tracking employment among people with disabilities in October 2008. There is not yet enough data compiled to establish seasonal trends among this population, so statistics for this group are not seasonally adjusted.

Data on people with disabilities covers those over the age of 16 who do not live in institutions. The first employment report specific to this population was made available in February 2009. Now, reports are released monthly.

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Comments (6 Responses)

  1. Lee Payton says:

    I find the biggest problem to be a lack of knowledge on the part of the general community as to the valid capabilities of people with disabilities, especially Developmental Disabilities. Closely following that barrier is the lack of an efficient tool to assess the interests and skill set of each individual seeking employment or career paths. And then there is the barrier of fear of failure and embarassment, not of the individual, but of the family members supporting the individual. We all deserve the opportunity to succeed and, if necessary, to fail and then try again. It takes a lot of effort to be successful in any life but it is especially challenging when you have a disability and too much “protection”.

  2. Whitney says:

    The problems is that people are prejudice against disabilities. Developmental disabilities does not mean intellectual disabilities all the time. People have screaming fits when the system of shelter work programs are touched. I am sorry to say that Shelter work programs are part of the problem with people’s expectations of developmental disabilities. ASD is high functioning disability and often they are lump together with autism in general. Most people here in lay man terms do not know that Autism comes in low intelligence and high intelligence to put bluntly. Often they scream bloody murder if programs are addressing Aspergers and computers getting the training they need for high paying fields it goes against the grain that person with disability can earn more non-disabled person. The fact government assistance allows a person live in poverty. If we need medication to function well we have to give up our job so we can have insurance to pay for the medicine. Because our wages would never cover the cost of the prescriptions.

  3. Discouraged says:

    Once I reached the ripe, young age of 50, I seemed to become “Invisible” in the world of work. Every vocational rehabilitation counselor I talked with, was SO encouraging. However, most employers were just the opposite, and VERY discouraging. Few employers seemed to be willing to even give me a chance to “Prove Myself”. Once employers figured out that I was over the age of 50, I never heard from them again. I guess that I’m now permanently unemployed, and forced into retirement, because I have a Developmental Disability — Asperger’s Syndrome — and am over the age of 50. If anyone asks me WHY I’m not working, and collecting SSDI instead, I’m very upfront, and honest, with them: I tried to get a job, but NO employer would hire me. I’ve talked to several other people in my situation, and it is depressing for many, if not all, of us. Oh Well, that is just “Reality” in the economic recovery that the United States is currently in, but seems to have by-passed many of the Developmentally Disabled.

  4. Mary Miller says:

    Here’s a part of the puzzle of hiring the disabled: I don’t want to bite the only hand that advocates for us, but VRC or BVR (whatever acronym you want to give it) has issues. Firstly, if the employment field receives tax credit for hiring the disabled, it gives off the impression that we are somehow lesser hires a kin to releasees from prison (the only other population I know of that receives funds for hiring other than VRC/BVR clients). Typically it has been a “game” with BVR clients to be hired for 90 days (while the company pays less than minimum wage for disabled employees) then be fired, claiming ‘they aren’t working out’, regardless if they are or not, simply because they can hire another worker at the 1/3 cost from BVR again; they never pay full wages.

    Secondarily, if you go to BVR because you’re intelligent enough to run your own business, but need training or funds to help support your start up, good luck! It is unevenly supported state by state as to how they wish to apply this program (and many will simply refuse your demands that you want to be self employed altogether, demanding you simply go through evaluation over (and over) again, then demand you must have a position in less than a month once on the roasters.

    If you ask them for assistance to become self employed, they will refuse, pure and simple. They will insist it is too much paperwork, they will demand you get a psych evaluation (to attempt to discredit your ideas, looking for grandiosity). One office I visited could not be ‘bothered’ to have personal phone messages for their case workers, had someone else listed as the client on the form letter that was supposed to be ‘mine’, claimed that while husband and wife who attempt to work together must be separated and interviewed separately, (although we have a business, thank you, and have been working together for over 13 years, we cannot apply to VRC together, it must be separate), confused physiatrist with psychiatrists (hint: the first one is a doctor above internal medicine for those with physical developmental disabilities, while the other we all know what that is!). AND basically stonewalled us claiming they ‘could not find a way to get our BVR records from Ohio’, because they NEVER CALLED.

    Not everyone wants to be ‘in the system’ working for someone else. Some people frankly need flex time and working for themselves if they have the capacity and experience, should be granted help with funding or education to help them get there.

    It is absolutely insane that a program that picked up the disabled as part of their program in the late 1960′s, whose job it is to help us get gainful and lasting employment, flatly and unequivocally are prejudiced against those they serve. We’re still limping along with our work, not because we don’t have a good product, or great reviews from client’s we have assisted. As stated earlier, we are now in our 13 year, but do not get exposure enough due to lack of start up capital as well as understanding of HOW to promote websites, email marketing, etc.

    Sadly programs like SCORE, fail often with folks like us, not because they not only lack current day models of how to run a home front business utilizing computers, but also because they see ‘disabled’ and oftentimes the meeting is simply “over”.

    Arc in it’s infinite limitation, only services folks up to the age of 24-26, in very few areas will they address the issues for folks older that are developmentally disabled (some states are savvy realizing that developmentally disabled doesn’t mean “young disabled”, but not all). So there is no support from ARC or other organized programs like Cerebral Palsy, who simply wash their hands of anyone over 26.

    Is there are crisis with employment for folks with disabilities? Yes. Are their issues with discrimination? Yes. In fact, it is a many headed hydra issue. And if you think that having a higher education will fix this problem, think again! Sadly hiring discrimination is worse for those with higher degrees, because they simply believe that discrimination laws (ADA, etc) do not apply to them.

    BVR or VRC (Bureau of Vocational Rehab, or Vocational Rehab Commission), blithely goes on lying to their prospective clients, and often in interviews treats us worse then prospective employees, they will NOT find you jobs, they will NOT help you with self employment, but will simply demand you seek out Walmart, while they get funding for having “placed you in a job” that you found yourself.

  5. Sarah Siraj says:

    Yes, Whitney I agree with you that it is socially acceptable for those with disabilities to only have the jobs that “no one else wants” which tend to have low pay and high turnover. We need to change the way we view this as a society because we are missing out on some amazing talents.

  6. State Employee says:

    I am a VRC who works with people who are blind or visually impaired and it is tough at best for them to obtain employment if they have skills and education but next to impossible if they are unskilled and/or undereducated. HR professionals need to be better educated on how someone with a disability can do a job particularly the low incidence disabilities such as a visual impairment.

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