For people who receive Social Security disability benefits, not working isn’t a choice. For many Americans with disabilities, even if they could work, it would be difficult to find a job. Even though the Americans with Disabilities Act was a landmark piece of legislation when it was enacted in 1990, it hasn’t helped much when it comes to getting disabled people jobs.
According to figures compiled by the federal government, the percentage of disabled people who are employed has dropped from 20 percent four years ago to just 18 percent today. That represents about 5.2 million out of 29 million working-age disabled people in the country.
There is some positive data for disabled people, however. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, about 15 percent of recent hires for federal jobs have been people who have disabilities. That translates into about 19,000 people.
The Obama administration is also reportedly considering requiring federal contractors — who employ a staggering number of all workers in the country, nearly one-fourth — to set the goal of employing a workforce made up of at least 7 percent disabled people. That could also open a lot of doors for people who are looking for work.
Advocates for the disabled say that if employers paid more attention, they would realize that employees with disabilities often bring more to the table than they might suspect. After all, people with disabilities have to get around in a world that often isn’t laid out for them to easily access; they can use that critical thinking to find innovative solutions in whatever area of business they might be in.
Source: Associated Press, “Scant Progress On Jobs For Disabled Americans,” March 25, 2013