The unemployment rate for Americans with disabilities edged upward last month, as employers added fewer jobs across the board, the U.S. Department of Labor said Friday.

The jobless rate for those with disabilities hit 13 percent in March, up from 12.3 percent the previous month. The shift reflects an increase in the number of people within this population who were actively seeking work.

At the same time, the unemployment rate for the general population dropped marginally to 7.6 percent. That number marks a four-year low even as the economy added a relatively meager 88,000 jobs.

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Though the employment situation continues to ebb and flow for people with disabilities from month to month, experts say things are looking up long-term.

“There are more people with disabilities in the job market getting jobs and not dropping out of the labor pool compared to this time last year,” said John O’Neill, director of employment and disability research at the nonprofit Kessler Foundation.

The Labor Department 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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