Each October, our country recognizes National Disability Employment Awareness Month – a month focused on highlighting the many contributions of workers with disabilities, while educating employers and the community on the value of a workforce comprising diverse skills and talents.
Traditionally, people with disabilities experience higher unemployment rates and earn lower wages than workers without disabilities. However, the new economic and social hardships resulting from the pandemic have further amplified these inequalities and dramatically exacerbated the historic challenges faced by people with disabilities.
Prior to 2020, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 7.3% in 2019 (Bureau of Labor Statistics). After the pandemic that began in March 2020, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities increased from 5.3% to 12.6%. Among people with disabilities, the unemployment rate for Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians was higher than that of whites. Across all age groups, people with disabilities were much less likely to be employed than those without a disability. The same is true when looking at different educational attainment groups.
In addition, people with disabilities who are employed tend to work in low-paying jobs and are more likely to work part-time. With 14.2% of San Antonio’s population cited as having a disability (Bureau of Labor Statistics) in 2019, and with just 36% of working-age adults in Bexar County having a disability, employing people disabilities continue to be a significant issue requiring community focus. Add to that the twice higher poverty rates among people with disabilities, and it is clear that this problem has an impact both on the individual and their families and on our community as a whole.
As advocates, citizens and employers, we must do more to promote employment opportunities for all, regardless of disability or circumstances. This not only improves our economy and speeds up the recovery, but also enables our neighbors to contribute to something bigger than themselves, find purpose and meaning in their life and help them realize their true talents and talents. potential.
TO Goodwill San Antonio, we know that hiring people with disabilities means hiring a dedicated and loyal workforce whose courage to persevere translates into innovative thinking and creativity. For 76 years, Goodwill San Antonio has experienced the significant impact of providing employment to those with barriers, including those with physical and / or mental disabilities. This has been central to our goal of tackling poverty and creating opportunity, and has made us a stronger and more inclusive social nonprofit enterprise. Across all levels of our organization, our employees, whether disabled or not, have brought us their talents, unique perspectives and unmatched passion that help us fulfill our mission to help change lives through the power of job. During my short tenure as CEO of Goodwill San Antonio, I have observed that it is individual ability and persistence that fuels their success.
With employers in all sectors currently struggling to hire, businesses and policy makers should consider workforce development strategies that include workers with disabilities. Equitable training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities should be intentionally incorporated into post-pandemic workforce development plans. This includes developing and providing access to essential support services, creating safe work environments, and improving access to digital literacy and skills development initiatives. It is the right thing to do.
While there is work to be done, employment opportunities for people with disabilities exist to include a variety of full-time and part-time positions with benefits across Goodwill, not just in our stores. deals, but also within our business services division, which provides outsourced solutions to federal and local governments as well as commercial enterprises. Resources such as Goodwill San Antonio’s free Good Career Centers also provide meaningful access, referrals, training and connections to employers hiring in the community. Those interested in learning more or needing help on how best to position themselves for future success can call (210) 271-8880 or email [email protected]
Partner nonprofits such as disAbilitySA and San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind, as well as major employers such as HEB, USAA and VIA Metropolitan Transit are also committed to providing and championing supportive work environments that foster success. of an individual, regardless of their disability status. With the belief that all people deserve the opportunity to have full and equal access to employment, we applaud employers and many others who are equally dedicated to providing diverse and inclusive workplaces. We invite you to join us.