Kessler Foundation Press Releases

nTIDE November 2019 Jobs Report: Rise in Jobs Sparks Rise in Optimism for People with Disabilities

nTIDE info graphic for press release

nTIDE info graphic with employment stats


Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire nTIDE Report— featuring New York City’s model employment initiative NYC: ATWORK that connects jobseekers with disabilities with competitive jobs in high growth industries 

East Hanover, NJ – December 6, 2019 – Job numbers rose for Americans with disabilities, sparking optimism among experts, 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 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Jobs Report released Friday, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 30.7 percent in November 2018 to 31.2 percent in November 2019 (up 1.6 percent or 0.5 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also increased from 74.3 percent in November 2018 to 75.0 percent in November 2019 (up 0.9 percent or 0.7 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).

“The employment rate of people with disabilities improved for the first time relative to the last couple of months,” said John O’Neill, PhD, director of employment and disability research at Kessler Foundation. “We hope this uptick is a sign of continuing improvement as the year draws to a close.”

The labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities increased from 33.5 percent in November 2018 to 33.8 percent in November 2019 (up 0.9 percent or 0.3 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate also increased from 76.9 percent in November 2018 to 77.5 percent in November 2019 (up 0.8 percent or 0.6 percentage points).

The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the population that is working or actively looking for work.

“Because of the very tight labor market, there still appear to be opportunities for people with disabilities,” remarked experts at the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability. “We hope the strength of this improvement extends to the new year.”

In November 2019, among workers ages 16-64, the 4,756,000 workers with disabilities represented 3.2 percent of the total 148,223,000 workers in the U.S.

Beyond the Numbers
Each year on December 3, the United Nations marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This year’s theme, “This is My Workplace”, was inspired by the UN’s Disability Inclusion Strategy released in June 2019 .

The day’s program held at the UN featured a panel, “Developing Inclusive Workplaces,” that included leaders in the field, including Jim Sinocchi of JP Morgan Chase & Co., Monique Lanaux from PepsiCo, Andrew Nye from the UN Department of Operational Support, Julie Sowash of Disability Solutions, activist Emily Ladau, Words I Wheel By, and Elaine E. Katz, MS, SLP, CCC, senior vice president of the Center for Grant-making and Communications at Kessler Foundation.

Katz shared lessons learned from Kessler Foundation’s national investment of more than $44 million in programs that expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities. “In our experience, programs based on community partnerships achieve greater success,” says Katz. “These programs also tend to focus on the talents and desires of the jobseeker with disabilities,” she noted, “and they offer wraparound services that support people striving to obtain and maintain employment.”

One grant-making success story is NYC: ATWORK, a dynamic government/public/private collaborative led by the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), and supported through the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. Funders include Kessler Foundation, Poses Family Foundation, Institute for Career Development, Access-VR, the Butler Foundation, and the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation.

With the support of large coalitions of service providers and business councils throughout the city, the project is narrowing the employment gap in the city by connecting jobseekers with disabilities with available jobs in high-growth industries across the city’s five boroughs. “Finding a job is an important step toward independence for people with disabilities, but they need substantial support in order to achieve lasting financial stability,” said MOPD Commissioner Victor Calise.

The collaborative provides that support, enabling the MOPD to take the lead on creating roadmaps for employment, financial empowerment and housing.  For example, collaborating with EmpoweredNYC, the first local program of Citi’s national initiative called Empowered Cities, provides access to individualized services aimed at increasing financial literacy and capability, as well as specialized benefits support services—of critical importance to individuals with disabilities transitioning to the workplace.

Early results are attracting national and international attention, according to Calise. To date, nearly 350 people with disabilities have found employment across diverse city agencies, and with employers in multiple sectors including healthcare, information technology, hospitality, finance, transportation and business services. Their positions range from entry level to management with an average salary of $55K. “These are real jobs with real pay and real benefits,” he emphasized.

“This collaborative project is a model for cities striving to meet their need for Human Resources by diversifying their workplaces with people with disabilities,” Calise said. “Our experience in New York City shows that large-scale coordinated efforts can meet the needs of employers and jobseekers, and improve productivity and quality of life in our urban communities.”                               

Ask Questions about Disability and Employment
Join our nTIDE Lunch & Learn series today, December 6, at 12:00 pm Eastern. This live broadcast, hosted via Zoom Webinar, offers attendees Q&A on the latest nTIDE findings, provides news and updates from the field, as well as invited panelists to discuss current disability-related findings and events. Jennifer Mathis, Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, joins Drs. Houtenville and O’Neill, and Denise Rozell, Policy Strategist at AUCD. Join live or watch the recordings at:

NOTE: The statistics in the nTIDE are based on Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers but are not identical. They are customized by UNH to combine the statistics for men and women of working age (16 to 64). nTIDE is funded, in part, by grants from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) (9ORT5022, 90RT5017, 90SI5026) and Kessler Foundation.

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

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


For more information, or to interview an expert, contact:
Carolann Murphy, 973.324.8382,



nTide Job Report Archive, 2020-2021