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More men with disabilities enter job market

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U.S. men with disabilities were more likely to be in the labor force in April and to have jobs than they were a year earlier.

U.S. women with disabilities were a little less likely to be either employed or actively in the labor force.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has given data painting that picture of the job market for U.S. people with disabilities in a new civilian population employment status report. 

Disability insurers watch the report series closely for clues of changes in how likely disability insurance claimants will be able to return to their old jobs or compete for new jobs.

In April, the overall civilian labor force participation rate fell to 68.8 percent, from 69.1 percent a year earlier, even as the overall unemployment rate fell to 6.9 percent. The total percentage of U.S. adults who had jobs increased slightly, to 64 percent, from 63.8 percent.

For workers with disabilities, the indicators looked different.

For all workers with disabilities, the unemployment rate rose to 12.9 percent, from 12.5 percent, but the labor force participation rate increased to 20.7 percent, from 20.3 percent and the employment-to-population ratio crept up to 18 percent, from 17.8 percent.

Men with disabilities seemed to do better than women with disabilities.

For men with disabilities, the unemployment rate rose to 13.7 percent, from 13.1 percent, but the labor force participation rate climbed to 35 percent, from 33.4 percent and the employment-to-population ratio increased to 30.2 percent, from 29.1 percent.

For women with disabilities, all indicators got worse.

For the women, the labor force participation rate fell to 28.7 percent, from 29.1 percent; the employment-to-population ratio fell to 24.5 percent, from 24.9 percent; and the unemployment rate rose to 14.8 percent, from 14.5 percent.

John O’Neill, a disability researcher at the Kessler Foundation, said he thinks the government figures show that the employment picture for people with disabilities is improving.

The fact that the labor force participation rate rose as the participation rate for all adults fell is “positive evidence that the labor market is starting to turn around for people with disabilities,” O’Neill said in a commentary on the data.

Analysts at Allsup, a company that helps people apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), said they think the high unemployment rate for people with disabilities shows that the outlook for job hunters with disabilities is still grim.

Because of the federal government’s budget problems, SSDI program managers have been closing some field offices and reducing hours at others, and that could make getting through the SSDI application process even more difficult than it has been in the past, the analysts said. 

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