New figures from the U.S. Department of Labor show a steep decline in the unemployment rate for Americans with disabilities.

The jobless rate for this population fell to 8.7 percent last month, according to the federal agency’s monthly jobs report released Friday. That’s down significantly from 11.3 percent the month prior.

The change reflects a growing number of people with disabilities in the workforce relative to the size of this demographic.

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At the same time, the labor situation remained little changed for the general population with the overall unemployment rate increasing just slightly to 5 percent as the economy added 156,000 jobs.

“The improvement in the proportion of people with disabilities working continues to outpace improvements made by people without disabilities,” said John O’Neill, director of employment and disability research at the Kessler Foundation.

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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