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Is the Job Picture Improving for The Person Who Has a Disability?

Burdine & Brown March 2, 2020

In a recent Wall Street Journal article (2/14/2020) the author argued that the increasingly robust economy is growing up opportunities for the disabled that was not present a year ago. Technology advances are attributed to this increase of opportunities.

This article states that only 20% of disabled workers can find a job in 2018. Yet this number is the highest in 20 years. Stated another way, 80% of those with disabilities are not able to find alternative employment. This is regrettable.

The Trump Administration has proposed a stricter measure for a person to qualify for disability. Since 1978, it was thought that a person over 50 years old would have a harder time finding alternative employment if the person were suffering with a disability. The thought was that it is harder to adapt to a new work environment with disabilities and less education and it is even harder to be re-trained if one is over 50 years of age. The article quotes a Harvard economist who states that age thresholds “are obviously from another time, an earlier time.” Essentially, a 50 years old is more like a 40 years old, he says.

Service jobs involve a lot less physical work and service jobs account for 86% of employment. Factory jobs are down to 8.5% from 22% since 1978. But with the resurgence of the “Make America Great Again” campaign of President Trump, many new manufacturing jobs are returning to the USA.

There needs to be greater degree of cooperation among the private sector and the various levels of government to re-train the disabled worker so that access to all types of new jobs are possible.

In the past, the state of Georgia had a strong emphasis on vocational rehabilitation. Budget cuts stopped these programs.

If age requirements are falling by the wayside and stricter requirements to prove disability are on the horizon (only 4 of 10 who apply for Social Security Disability benefits are awarded benefits) then the disabled could certainly use the helping hand of vocational retraining to return to the workforce.

All boats rise when our workforce is modernized and paid well. Living on disability money is not healthy, and does not promote good mental health. But without that helping hand, many are stuck in an unending cycle of despair and disillusionment. This can be prevented. Georgia, let's get these programs in place again!