nTIDE January 2022 COVID Update: Rise in January unemployment reflects omicron surge

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

East Hanover, NJ. February 18, 2022. Unemployment rose for people with and without disabilities as the surge in the omicron variant affected the labor market in January, according to today’s National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) COVID Update.  


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.

nTIDE January 2022 Rise in January unemployment reflects omicron surge

January’s unemployment numbers show an increase in furloughs and people looking for work, 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.  “We’re definitely seeing a slowing in forward momentum, but the February numbers will tell us more,” said Dr. Houtenville. “Given the recent declines in new COVID-19 infections and the growing consensus supporting the lifting of pandemic restrictions, the uptick in unemployment may be short-lived.”


“Also, there may be an upside to these data,” he added. “The increase in people looking for work may be a sign that jobseekers with disabilities are taking advantage of opportunities in the evolving labor market.” This observation was echoed by Elaine E. Katz, MS, CCC-SLP , senior vice president of grantmaking and communications at Kessler Foundation, who cited information from the Essex County Disabilities Committee of the Newark Workforce Development Board : “In New Jersey, we are seeing people with disabilities being hired more quickly and getting better jobs, despite the ongoing shortage of job coaches and support staff.”


Dr. Houtenville sounded a note of caution, saying, “It’s not possible to predict how the pandemic will unfold. If new variants arise, we may see recurring fluctuations in unemployment. These may be minimized as businesses adapt to these disruptions, and public health measures help to modify their impact.”


About nTIDE Updates

This COVID Update is an extra edition of National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE), 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.


Upcoming nTIDE webinars scheduled for March 4 and March 18.

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


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. For more information, visit KesslerFoundation.org.

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.

Interested in trends on disability employment? Contact Carolann Murphy to arrange an interview with our experts:  [email protected] .

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

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