During National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), we recommit to ensuring all Americans can access good, safe, family-sustaining jobs. This year’s NDEAM theme, America’s Workforce: Empowering All, recognizes the importance of ensuring all Americans can participate in our nation’s vibrant workforce.
Americans want to work and the opportunity to work must be open to all.
There are currently more jobs available in America than ever before. For the first time on record, our economy has more open jobs – 6.9 million – than job seekers. Since November 2016, over 4 million jobs have been created. A record number of Americans – 156 million – are working.
At the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), we work each day to bring more Americans with disabilities into the workforce.
ODEP provides tools for job creators to establish more apprenticeship programs. Through the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion, we help employers recruit and retain Americans with disabilities. Our Job Accommodation Network provides employers with guidance on workplace accommodation. Just last week, we announced $19 million in grants to help those who become ill or injured remain at, or return to, work.
Americans with disabilities are seeing more opportunity to work. Since November 2016, the number of Americans with disabilities working reached its highest level on record, and the unemployment rate for this part of the workforce fell to its lowest point ever. This is good news for job seekers and job creators, because the skills, talent, and hard work of Americans with disabilities strengthens our workforce as well as our national economy.
Yet there is more to do.
NDEAM is a time to emphasize the importance of ensuring all Americans, including Americans with disabilities, can put their skills and talents to work. It is an opportunity for our nation’s job creators to enhance their commitment to a workplace that ensures America’s workforce empowers all.
NDEAM’s true spirit lies at the grassroots level, with activities and observances in workplaces and communities across the country. Please visit the NDEAM website for more information.
Jennifer Sheehy is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy.