nTIDE November 2022 COVID Update: Big decline pushes unemployment for people with disabilities below pre-pandemic levels

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

East Hanover, NJ. December 20, 2022. Unemployment for people with disabilities declined markedly in November to well below pre-pandemic levels, according to today’s National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) COVID Update. While seasonal hiring may account for some of the drop, nTIDE experts find reasons to be optimistic about the overall picture for workers with disabilities.  

“This major decline brings unemployment back to where it was pre-COVID-19, which was a good spot for people with disabilities,” said Andrew Houtenville, PhD, professor of economics at the University of Hampshire (UNH) and research director of the UNH Institute on Disability. “This month’s numbers are better than the November data for 2015 to 2019, years when people with disabilities were making headway in the labor force. It looks like they may be back on track following the disruptions of the pandemic,” he added.

There are more reasons for optimism, according to nTIDE co-author John O’Neill, PhD, director of the Center for Employment and Disability Employment Research at Kessler Foundation. Referencing the December 2 nTIDE report, Dr. O’Neill noted the gains in the employment-to-population ratio and labor force participation rates for people with disabilities. “This tells us that unemployment has dropped because people are finding jobs,” he asserted. “It is noteworthy that this decline is occurring despite the counter pressures of the rise in the U.S. population, and consequently, in the number of jobseekers with disabilities. Let’s hope that this positive pattern extends into the new year.” 


graphs indicating the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic of people with and without disabilities
These graphics compare the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic of people with and without disabilities, capturing pre-pandemic and current unemployment data from
January 2020 to November 2022. Unemployment declined for both groups, with a marked decline for people with disabilities.



Plans for Deeper Dive in 2023

Monitoring the National Trends in Disability Employment helps us track the impact of economic shifts on people with disabilities. As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wane, the impact of inflation continues to rise. In 2023, the nTIDE team plans to transition the COVID Update to a ‘deeper dive’ into the Bureau of Labor Statistics data for people with disabilities. 

Register now for our upcoming nTIDE webinars scheduled for January 6 and January 20, 2023: nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar Series | Center for Research on Disability 

ICYMI: Learn about the new survey produced by the nTIDE team, the 2022 Kessler Foundation National Employment & Disability Survey: Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on Supervisor Perspectives.

About nTIDE Updates

National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE), is a joint project of Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Institute on Disability, co-authored by Andrew Houtenville, PhD, from the UNH Institute on Disability 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 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 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.

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, contact:
Deb Hauss, [email protected]
Carolann Murphy, [email protected]

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