Disability employment

The COVID-19 pandemic led to soaring unemployment rates for people with disabilities, and these rates have not declined as quickly in New York as they have nationally, according to a report released this month (April 2023) by the New York State Comptroller’s Office.

RELATED: Disabled Workers Reap Benefits of  Booming Labor Market

The report includes interesting data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey:

  • 827,200 people with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 64 lived in New York in 2022, representing 6.7% of the working-age population. Nationally, about 7.9% of the working-age population has a disability.
  • Between 2020 and 2022, the number of working-age people with disabilities grew 14.4% in New York and 10.9% nationally.
  • The national employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with a disability declined by 1.8 percentage points in 2020 to 29.1%. Since then, it has increased steadily to 34.7% in 2022, the highest rate on record dating back to 2009. In contrast, the ratio declined by only 0.5% points in New York in 2020 and has continued to decline to 26.1% in 2022. New York’s ratio was 8.6 percentage points lower than the nation’s in 2022, the largest difference recorded in the past 13 years.

Unemployment rates for people with disabilities similarly show slower recovery in New York than the nation.

Efforts to Increase Opportunities

The report also goes over efforts the state has made to increase opportunities for people with disabilities:

  • In 2022, lawmakers expanded the State’s preferred source contracting program and created a training and certification program for employers that have taken the State’s EmployAbility pledge to demonstrate their commitment to inclusive workplaces.
  • In February 2022, the Office of the Chief Disability Officer (CDO) was established to coordinate State agency operations to fully implement the Americans with Disabilities Act and ensure that New Yorkers with disabilities are given the accommodations necessary to have equal opportunities for employment.
  • In the State Fiscal Year 2023-24 Executive Budget, the Governor proposed increasing the number of State workforce positions or people with disabilities from 1,200 to 1,700 and giving these employees an opportunity to transfer into a competitive class position.


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