Employersare actively recruiting workers with disabilities as a way to gain a loyal work force, tap overlooked talent and add diversity.
Such efforts could be crucial as more people with physical and mental challenges who attended school after the 1990 passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act reach adulthood.
In May, 17.9 percent of people with disabilities had jobs compared with 64.3 percent for those with no impairments, based on unadjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The ratio is down from its high of 21 percent in September 2008, during the first year data was kept, and has fallen 0.2 percentage point from a year ago, even as employment improved for the nondisabled population.
“There are a lot of companies getting on the bandwagon, but I also think we have a long way to go,” National Governors Association Chairman Jack Markell, the Delaware governor who is heading a yearlong initiative to spur hiring of disabled Americans, said in an interview. “There are a lot of people with disabilities who would love to work but who are not given the opportunity.”