Americans With Disabilities Experiencing Record Unemployment Rate

Bernard A. Krooks

Unemployment among persons with disabilities spiked in the second quarter of 2011, and continues to outpace the unemployment rate for other workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The jobless rate for Americans with disabilities is now 16.9 percent, up from 15.6 percent in May and tied with the record for the highest rate set in August 2009. The data covers those over the age of 16 who do not live in an institution.

This statistic erases the gains seen in April 2011, when unemployment dropped for the first time since January. The U.S. Department of Labor began tracking unemployment for Americans with disabilities in 2008. The first employment report was issued in February 2009, and are now released monthly.

Americans with disabilities are experiencing a jobless rate more than 80 percent higher than the rest of Americans, who are currently at 9.2 percent. The study also reported that 44.4 percent of disabled individuals who were unemployed in June had been jobless for 27 weeks or more.

The average number of Social Security applications per month is also now more than 300,000, up from an average of 200,000 before 2008, according to the United States Social Security Administration. This represents an increase of more than 27 percent from a year ago. The average cumulative wait time is now more than 700 days.

 

President Barack Obama announced on the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in late July that the federal government would improve compliance with Section 508, which requires that federal agencies’ technology be accessible to people with disabilities. Section 508 ensures that Americans with disabilities have equal access to federal job opportunities, requires the government provide the proper technology to let them perform their duties, and makes information more easily accessible.

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