by Mohamed Mourssi

Finding and retaining talented, diverse employees is important for businesses to stay competitive. Highly qualified job seekers with disabilities are frequently overlooked and underestimated. Recent reports show that about nine million unemployed Americans with significant disabilities are seeking jobs. Federal, state, and local governments, along with chambers of commerce and nonprofit organizations, are working with people with disabilities to improve their job opportunities and workplace support.

RS1360_75148-scrOverall, Minnesota has proved to be a better place for people with disabilities to work than most other states. Minnesota is ranked number two in the nation in the rate of employment for people with disabilities. In addition, the poverty rate among people with disabilities in Minnesota is one of the lowest in the nation.

Consider these statistics from the 2011 American Community Survey:

  • Just under ten percent of the entire non-institutionalized population in Minnesota reported a disability, compared to 12.1 percent nationwide. Among working age adults (ages 21-64), this percentage drops to 7.9 percent in Minnesota and 10.5 percent nationally.
  • Minnesota’s employment rate for people with disabilities is about 47 percent, the second-highest in the nation following North Dakota. However, that’s far below the overall employment rate in Minnesota (81.8 percent in 2011).
  • Workers with a disability were less likely to work full-time than those with no disability. Only about one-quarter of employees with a disability worked a full-time, year-round schedule (compared to 58.7 percent of those without disabilities).
  • In Minnesota, about one in four working-age people with disabilities is living under the poverty level. The high rate of poverty among working-age people with disabilities is driven by several factors, including lack of earnings caused by the low participation in the workforce and low earnings caused by the low rate of full-time/full-year participation.

For more statistics on people with disabilities, please visit Disability Statistics (Cornell University)  and Annual Disability Statistics Compendium