Unemployment rates for Americans with disabilities rose in 2020

Posted at 12:34 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 17:54:12-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A new report from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a marked increase in unemployment among Americans with disabilities, especially women and minorities.

On average, the unemployment rate for Americans with disabilities in 2020 was 12.6 percent, an increase of 5.3 percent from 2019.

The unemployment rate for women with disabilities was 13.2 percent in 2020.

“Among persons with a disability, the jobless rates for Hispanics (16.8 percent), Blacks (16.3 percent), and Asians (15.7 percent) were higher than the rate for Whites (11.6 percent) in 2020. These rates increased among all major race and ethnicity groups from 2019 to 2020,” the report says.

A spokeswoman for Salt Lake City’s Columbus Community Center, which helps people with disabilities find work, said the problem affects Utah too.

“We had one employer that furloughed 10 of our clients who had been with them for a good 15 years, in some cases, so steady employment in these settings. They were furloughed and subsequently terminated. We did find that a little disheartening. We do feel that, potentially, there was some bias towards wanting to keep more quote unquote ‘productive employees’, whether that’s true or not But that was a big disappointment for us,” said Columbus Community Center CEO Kristy Chambers.

Some people with disabilities have chosen not to return to the workforce because of underlying health conditions that could be exacerbated by exposure to COVID-19.

But the availability of vaccinations is helping some of those potential workers feel safer about returning to their jobs.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services and the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation are offering the following events and services for workers with disabilities and employers:

Employer Workshop: Tuesday, March 9, 2021

● This is an excellent opportunity for human resources, recruiters and supervisors to learn more about hiring and retaining individuals with disabilities. Meet with specialists and learn more about available resources.

● Date: Tuesday, March 9, 2021; 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Register: []

Virtual Work Ability Job Fair: Tuesday, April 13, 2021

● This job fair is tailored for individuals with disabilities. Be prepared to meet business leaders, attend workshops and explore your career opportunities. The event is free and open to the general public.

Date: Tuesday, April 13, 2021; 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Register: []

Additional Services for Employers/Businesses wanting to Hire People with Disabilities

The USOR Business Relations Team Can:

● Connect employers with job ready, skilled and qualified people with disabilities

● Provide disability employment training and education for Human Resources, supervisors, and other hiring managers

● Assist to improve or add workplace accommodations

● Connect and network with other businesses taking action to hire people with disabilities

●Provide information on resources and financial assistance to hire and training people with disabilities