Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month
There may be few things that are harder to do today than find a job. The unemployment rate in the United States remains at a concerning 9.1 percent, even though the economy added over 100,000 jobs in September. The difficulty many Americans encounter while looking for a job is nothing, though, when compared to the difficulty Americans with disabilities face when they undertake their own job searches.
This June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate for people with disabilities in 2010 was 14.6 percent, well above the national rate of 9.4 percent. Indeed, the report found that "at each level of education, persons with a disability were much less likely to be employed than were their counterparts with no disability." That trend has not abated, as 17.1 percent of people with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 64 were unemployed as of September 2011.
Even when people with disabilities are able to secure jobs, their opportunities are often limited. The same Bureau of Labor Statistics report found that workers with a disability are "less likely to work in management, professional, and related occupations. Nearly one-third of workers with a disability were employed part time, compared to one-fifth of individuals without a disability.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. As such, I believe we should all take a moment and consider whether we are doing enough to help people with disabilities contribute to our communities through productive, full-time employment. We still have much progress to make in combating the unemployment and underemployment that is rampant in the disability community.
The URJ, in conjunction with many other faith organizations and congregations across the United States, has signed on to a Statement of Solidarity, written by the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition. The statement recognizes the impact that employment has on the lives and well-being of individuals with disabilities and strives to make employment opportunities available.
The URJ is encouraging YOUR congregation to sign on to the Statement of Solidarity, available here. Together, we can help everyone become a full member of our communities.
Image courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor.