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nTIDE January 2021 Jobs Report: Recovery Stalls for People with Disabilities

National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) – issued semi-monthly by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire

As COVID-19 outbreaks continue to affect national and local economies, the job market struggled to maintain momentum, according to today’s National Trends in Disability Employment – Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD). In the coming months, prospects for recovery may improve as vaccine availability increases and the federal government implements new public health measures and considers additional economic relief.

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nTIDE COVID Update (month-to-month comparison)
In the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Jobs Report released Friday, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities decreased from 29.4 percent in December 2020 to 28.7 percent in January 2021 (down 2.4 percent or 0.7 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also decreased from 70.9 percent in December 2020 to 70.5 percent in January 2021 (down 0.6 percent or 0.4 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).

“In January, we saw a decrease in the employment-to-population ratio as COVID-19 infections spiked across the nation following the Christmas and New Year holidays,” said John O’Neill, PhD, director of the Center for Employment and Disability Research at Kessler Foundation. “We should see improvement in the employment-to-population ratio in coming months as the stimulus bills kick in and vaccines are more widely distributed,” he added.

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The labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities decreased from 33.2 percent in December 2020 to 32.8 percent in January 2021 (down 1.2 percent or 0.4 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate also decreased from 75.7 percent in December 2020 to 75.5 percent in January 2021 (down 0.3 percent or 0.2 percentage points). The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the population that is working, not working and on temporary layoff, or not working and actively looking for work.

“The labor force participation rate for people with disabilities also declined slightly in January,” noted economist Andrew Houtenville, PhD, research director of the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability. “Over the course of the pandemic, we have seen people with disabilities staying engaged in the workforce by either working, actively looking for work, or still expecting to be recalled. The decline in January may reflect the reinstatement of restrictions to stop the increasing spread of COVID-19.”

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