For the first time ever the U.S. Department of Labor released employment data Friday on people with disabilities. As expected, unemployment is more common and rising among those with disabilities compared to the rest of the population, even as unemployment continues to soar among all Americans.

In January the unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 13.2 percent up from 12.3 percent in December. That’s compared with a rise to 8.3 percent from 6.9 percent for people without disabilities. These numbers are not seasonally adjusted.

The data released on people with disabilities covers employment trends for October 2008 through January 2009. It represents people with disabilities over the age of 16 who do not live in institutions. In the future, such data will be released every month.

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“Now that so many Americans are suffering job losses, there is a tremendous amount of attention being paid to employment problems and solutions,” said John Davey, deputy assistant secretary for the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). “Americans with disabilities typically experience similar employment difficulties — even when there is a robust economy. The economic downturn may just exacerbate their struggle.”

Last month ODEP released a survey of employer attitudes about hiring people with disabilities (see here). It indicated that attitudes are improving. Nonetheless, unemployment rates remain significantly higher among those with disabilities as compared to other Americans.