nTIDE April 2022 COVID Update: Unemployment holds steady for people with disabilities

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

East Hanover, NJ. May 23, 2022. Jobs data showed small declines in unemployment for people with and without disabilities in April, according to Friday’s National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) COVID Update. The April data also showed that the number of workers still on temporary layoff remained relatively unchanged, which may reflect persistent delays in the supply chain, according to nTIDE expert Andrew Houtenville, PhD, professor of economics at the University of Hampshire (UNH) and research director of the UNH Institute on Disability.


nTIDE April 2022 COVID Update: Unemployment holds steady for people with disabilities graphic
These graphics compare the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with and without disabilities, capturing

pre-pandemic and current unemployment data from January 2020 to April 2022. April numbers showed small

declines in unemployment for both groups; temporary layoffs remained steady for both groups.



“Over the past four months, the number of unemployed has been relatively steady for people with disabilities, hovering around 590,000, compared with 460,000 prior to the pandemic,” said Dr. Houtenville. “In our May 6 nTIDE, we reported a similar trend for their labor force participation rate, also suggesting there’s not a lot of movement for people with disabilities.” Unemployment for people without disabilities has shown a slow but steady decline over the past two years. “We see greater variability in the data for people with disabilities,” he noted, “which relates to their smaller sample size.”

As workers strive to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, other factors are likely to influence future trends. Despite the continued strength of the labor market, the rise in inflation and counter measures to slow the economy may contribute to increases in unemployment. “We need a ‘soft landing’ when bringing down inflation,” Dr. Houtenville cautioned, “to minimize the risk for recession, and maintain momentum in the labor market for all workers, including people with disabilities.”   

Field Notes − News from SHRM and Job Path NYC

Demand for workers remains high, prompting human resource professionals to expand their recruiting efforts. Many employers are interested in hiring workers with disabilities but lack the skills and knowledge to do this successfully. A new certificate program from the SHRM Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Society for Human Resource Professional (SHRM), equips HR professionals, people managers and business leaders with the knowledge and tools they need to recruit, hire, and retain individuals with disabilities, according to Elaine E. Katz, MS, CCC-SLP, senior vice president of grantmaking and communications at Kessler Foundation. A Kessler Foundation grant allows free and open access to Employing Abilities at Work, a 10-hour certificate program comprising seven training modules. “The Employing Abilities at Work certificate is a great opportunity for businesses to prepare to meet their hiring needs in a competitive labor market,” Katz emphasized, “and reap the benefits of diversifying their workforces.”

COVID-19 cases are rising in New York City, home to Job Path NYC, a nonprofit that provides customized employment services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. nTIDE co-author John O’Neill, PhD, director of the Center for Employment and Disability Employment Research at Kessler Foundation is on the board of Job Path NYC. “Businesses are continuing to open up in the city despite the rise in cases,” he said, “and we are seeing workplaces continue to adapt to the changing environment. “While some jobs related to cleaning services are being eliminated, some new types of jobs based on digital communications have emerged as a result of pandemic restrictions. Sadly, we are also seeing some job losses due to closures of small businesses that remained open during the height of the pandemic but are now succumbing to the prolonged stresses of business restrictions, supply issues, and staff shortages.”

Upcoming nTIDE webinars scheduled for June 3 and June 17

Each nTIDE release is followed by a Lunch & Learn webinar at 12:00 ET, featuring nTIDE experts Andrew Houtenville, PhD and John O’Neill, PhD. You may register for upcoming webinars, and view the nTIDE archives here:  nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar Series | Center for Research on Disability

About nTIDE Updates

National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE), is a joint project of Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability, co-authored by Dr. Houtenville and John O'Neill, PhD, of Kessler Foundation. The nTIDE team closely monitors the job numbers, issuing semi-monthly nTIDE reports, as the labor market continues to reflect the many challenges of the pandemic. Since 2013, a monthly nTIDE has been issued in conjunction with the first Friday Jobs Report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In April of 2020, restrictions on economic activity in the U.S. due to the COVID-19 pandemic precipitated an unprecedented rise in furloughs and people looking for work, prompting the addition of this mid-month nTIDE COVID Update. The mid-month nTIDE follows two key unemployment indicators – furloughs, or temporary layoffs, and the number of people looking for work, comparing trends for people with and without disabilities.

Funding: Kessler Foundation and the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) (90RT5037)

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes -- including employment -- for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities.

About the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire

The Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) was established in 1987 to provide a coherent university-based focus for the improvement of knowledge, policies, and practices related to the lives of persons with disabilities and their families. For information on the NIDILRR-funded Employment Policy and Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, visit ResearchonDisability.org.

For more information, contact:
Deb Hauss, [email protected]
Carolann Murphy, [email protected]

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