There has been a major shift in recent years in employment of people with disabilities, but hundreds of organizations nationwide are still paying these workers as little as pennies per hour.

Under a law dating back to the 1930s, employers can obtain special certificates from the U.S. Department of Labor permitting them to pay workers with disabilities less than the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.

New data from the Labor Department indicates that as of the beginning of this month, 905 entities across the country have active or pending certificates under section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. These employers report that they are paying 43,584 workers with disabilities subminimum wage.

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The figures represent a continuing drop in employment under the program. A Government Accountability Office report released earlier this year found that in 2019 there were 1,567 employers paying some 122,000 people with disabilities less than minimum wage.

Changes in federal law and the implementation of subminimum wage bans in many cities and states over the last decade have led to an increased focus on competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities as opposed to subminimum wage.

More recently, a dozen disability advocacy groups called on the Labor Department to issue a moratorium on new section 14(c) certificates citing declining participation in the program.

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