Take-Home Pay Increases, But Jobs Still Hard To Come By
As thousands of Americans get a pay raise Friday, the nation’s top labor official says plenty more needs to be done to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
The federal minimum wage increases to $7.25 per hour up from $6.55 beginning Friday. The jump is the final of a three step pay increase mandated by Congress in 2007.
The pay hike will impact hourly workers in the 30 states without a higher state minimum wage in place and in the District of Columbia where workers must be paid at least $1 more than the federal minimum wage. For a full-time worker, the increase will mean $28 more each week.
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Currently, 148,000 Americans with disabilities — or 4.9 percent of people in this population who are paid hourly — earn minimum wage or less. Meanwhile, about 2.4 million people without disabilities, or 3.5 percent of hourly workers are paid minimum wage or less, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Finding and maintaining employment remains a struggle for people with disabilities. In June, unemployment among people in this population reached its highest rate since the government began tracking employment data for people with disabilities.
“Unfortunately, the employment rate for people with disabilities in this country is still unacceptably low,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis in a statement to honor the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act on Sunday. “Only 22.6 percent of individuals with disabilities are participating in the labor force, compared to 71.9 percent of people with no disability. And although the federal government strives to be a model employer, in actuality the number of people with disabilities in the federal workforce has decreased over the past decade. This trend must be reversed.”