As the nation’s unemployment rate dropped to a five-year low last month, Americans with disabilities struggled to make gains in the job market, new data suggests.

Unemployment among people with disabilities dipped to 12.3 percent in November, the U.S. Department of Labor said Friday. That’s down from 12.8 percent the prior month.

However, the declining unemployment rate came — at least in part — because fewer individuals with disabilities were seeking work. The number of people with disabilities who were considered to be employed actually fell between October and November, the Labor Department said.

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At the same time, the overall unemployment rate reached 7 percent for the first time in five years as the economy added 203,000 jobs.

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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