WEST ORANGE, N.J., Feb. 5, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As new year begins, the two major economic indicators send mixed signals about the employment of people with disabilities, according to today's National Trends in Disability Employment – Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD). A comprehensive approach to clinical rehabilitation that includes vocational services will improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities.
In the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Jobs Report released Friday, February 5, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities experienced almost no change from 26.7 percent in January 2015 to 26.6 percent in January 2016 (down 0.4 percent; 0.1 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio increased slightly from 71.2 percent in January 2015 to 71.9 percent in January 2016 (up 1.0 percent; 0.7 percentage points). The employment-to-population ratio, a key indicator, reflects the percentage of people who are working relative to the total population (the number of people working divided by the number of people in the total population multiplied by 100).
"A decline of one-tenth of a percentage point in the employment-to-population ratio is basically no change. And it is a far cry from the declines we saw in the last few months of 2015. Let's hope that this is a sign of good news to come in 2016," said Andrew Houtenville, Ph.D., associate professor of economics at UNH.
The labor force participation rate of people with disabilities decreased slightly from 30.8 percent in January 2015 to 30.3 percent in January 2016 (down 1.6 percent; 0.5 percentage points). For people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate increased slightly from 75.7 percent in January 2015 to 75.8 percent in January 2016 (down 0.1 percent; 0.1 percentage points). The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the population that is working or actively looking for work.
"In this first month of 2016, we are seeing mixed results in the employment situation for people with disabilities that contrast significantly with the downturn we saw in the last four months of 2015," according to John O'Neill, Ph.D., director of employment and disability research at Kessler Foundation. "This may be signaling an employment picture for 2016 that is similar to the gains 2015 where people with disabilities actually outpaced their peers without disabilities."
Brain injury has been a hot topic during the run up to Sunday's Super Bowl, with news about affected players, as well as a recent film, "Concussion," that highlights the consequences of football-related brain injuries. These discussions highlight a major focus for Kessler Foundation – research aimed at new and effective treatments that improve function and quality of life after brain injury. Support for tailored employment programs bridges the gap between rehabilitation research and community reintegration.
A $339,254 Signature Employment Grant to ServiceSource, Florida Regional Office in Clearwater, FL, funds "Warrior Bridge Brain Injury Demonstration Project," which has three modules: community integration, vocational preparation and direct placement.
"People with brain injury can succeed in the workplace," said Elaine E. Katz, MS, senior vice president of Grants and Communications at Kessler Foundation. "Hands-on work experience can help them achieve their goals. We anticipate that ServiceSource's peer-run clubhouse model will provide an environment in which individuals can explore their interests and gain the skills they need to transition to the workplace. By partnering with the International Brain Injury Clubhouse Association, a collaborative international network of clubhouses, as well as local clinical programs, Service Source is prioritizing the inclusion of vocational rehabilitation services in brain injury management programs."
In January 2016, among workers ages 16-64, the 4,064,000 workers with disabilities represented 2.9 percent of the total 140,494,000 workers in the U.S.
"The statistics in nTIDE are not seasonally adjusted," noted Dr. O'Neill. "Because disability employment data have been collected for so few years, more time is needed for seasonal trends to become evident."
The next nTIDE will be issued on Friday, March 4, 2016.
NOTE: The statistics in the National Trends in Disability Employment – Update are based on Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, but are NOT identical. They have been customized by the University of New Hampshire to efficiently combine the statistics for men and women of working age (16 to 64).
nTIDE is funded, in part, by grants from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) (H133B130015 & H133B120005) and Kessler Foundation.
About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit KesslerFoundation.org.
About the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire
The Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) was established in 1987 to provide a coherent university-based focus for the improvement of knowledge, policies, and practices related to the lives of persons with disabilities and their families. For information on the NIDILRR-funded Employment Policy and Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, visit http://www.ResearchonDisability.org.
For more information, or to interview an expert, contact:
Carolann Murphy, 973.324.8382, CMurphy@KesslerFoundation.org
A photo accompanying this release is available at: http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=38811
CONTACT: Carolann Murphy, 973.324.8382, CMurphy@KesslerFoundation.org