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Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Employment Picture, Bright and Dark

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has some sobering data on disability employment.

Among Americans between the ages of 16 and 64, the May 2012 labor force participation rate was 77.3 percent.  Among those in this age group with disabilities, it was just 20.9 percent.  The unemployment rates were 12.8 percent and 8.1 percent.

Disabled people in this age group who were not working (either unemployed or not in the labor force), 70.8 percent reported a barrier to employment.  Of this group, 83.5 said that the barrier was their own disability itself.  Other reasons included lack of education or training (16.5 percent), lack of transportation (14.3 percent) and the need for special features on the job (12.3 percent).  The figures top 100 percent because some respondents gave multiple answers.

Consumer Affairs has a more hopeful story:
When it comes to autism, many people might be aware of the social challenges involved but not the professional ones. That’s not the case with Gary Moore, the founder of the nonPareil Institute in Plano, Texas.
Moore and his partner, Dan Selic, have created a software and training program for people on the autism spectrum to help them find employment and develop skills to work in the tech industry.

“Many of the high-functioning guys are brilliant, but they can’t get a job because they’re different,” said Moore. “We’re trying to build a future for them.”
Selic agrees and says although the training program is about job placement, it’s about teaching adults with autism how to be independent as well.

“If we can consistently get product on the market, instead of having this tidal wave of individuals look for a welfare answer or a governmental answer, what we’re focused on is getting them resources they need to learn and earn their own way in their lives,” he said. “We’re committed to giving them the skills that they need to build great products and compete in the marketplace.”