Disabled Americans' Unemployment Rate at 13.2 Percent

The Labor Department's Office of Disability Employment Policy released the first employment and unemployment data on Americans with disabilities this morning. This began a monthly data series that "will assist the nation in understanding how changing labor market conditions affect Americans with disabilities. Although it is widely believed that this group typically faces a higher rate of unemployment than individuals without disabilities, official estimates were not available until now," the DOL news release said.

This morning's release showed the unemployment rate for disabled Americans in January 2009, 13.2 percent, was 59 percent higher than the unemployment rate for non-disabled Americans in the same month, 8.3 percent.

"Now that so many Americans are suffering job losses, there is a tremendous amount of attention being paid to employment problems and solutions affecting the general population. Americans with disabilities typically experience similar employment difficulties, even when there is a robust economy. The economic downturn may just exacerbate their struggle. These data will go far toward efforts to increase the employment of people with disabilities," John Davey, deputy assistant secretary for ODEP, said in the release today.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics and ODEP are publishing the data at www.bls.gov/cps/cpsdisability.htm and www.dol.gov/odep. The data are collected by BLS in the Current Population Survey, which surveys employment and unemployment for the population ages 16 and older. Six disability questions were added to the survey in June 2008, satisfying an executive order signed by President Bill Clinton to measure the employment status of disabled workers on a timely basis.

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