The Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy released statistics in July pegging the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities at 16.4 percent. The unemployment rate for persons without disabilities remained at 9.5 percent.
On July 26, President Barack Obama signed an executive order entitled “Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities.” The order directs the Office of Personnel Management to develop hiring and retention strategies aimed at increasing federal employment of individuals with disabilities. Specifically, the order identifies the objective of hiring 100,000 persons with disabilities over the next five years.
The executive order states that the “Federal Government has an important interest in reducing discrimination against Americans living with a disability.” Currently, individuals with disabilities are underrepresented in the federal work force, constituting only five percent of all federal employees. In addition to increasing employment, the order states the goal of eliminating stigmas associated with disability. In addition to focusing on new hiring, the order requires federal agencies to boost efforts to accommodate workers who have suffered an on-the-job injury. It also encourages the expansion of programs aimed at bringing injured workers back into the federal workforce.