October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. As a nonprofit supporting people with disabilities, we promote its significance to the community. Many individuals have employment as a goal, and we address their aspiration by connecting people to local employers, and by employing people with disabilities directly.
The key word this month is awareness. Though people with disabilities have made great strides in entering the workforce, there are still many challenges to address.
In the United States, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities remains over 70 percent. In fact, 27 percent of working-age Americans with disabilities live in poverty, compared to 11.9 percent of those without disabilities. Consider that nearly 10 percent of working-age people in the U.S. have a disability.
The economy is impacted when 18.3 million people are idle, as human potential is unrealized and benefits paid by taxpayers increase. In a bad economy, when people with disabilities cannot find work, utilization of disability benefits has skyrocketed.
In this environment, funding to support employing people with disabilities, particularly developmental disabilities, is eroding.