Oregon Seeks to Enhance Employment Outcomes for People with Disabilities Through Private-Sector Engagement

By Rachel Wright, Policy Analyst

Over the past 10 years, the employment rate of Oregonians with disabilities has steadily risen and remains among the highest in the nation. Research by the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium shows that between 2012 and 2020, the employment rate of people with disabilities in Oregon rose 2.3 percentage points. This means that more than 18,000 additional Oregonians who have a disability found and maintained employment during that period. 

Oregon’s sustained engagement with private sector businesses has contributed to the improved employment outcomes among people with disabilities. In recent years, Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) – an office within the Oregon Department of Human Services – has spearheaded numerous initiatives to build the capacity of private sector employers to engage in disability inclusion efforts. These initiatives include: 

Continue reading “Oregon Seeks to Enhance Employment Outcomes for People with Disabilities Through Private-Sector Engagement”

Engaging the Private Sector: States Employ Tax Incentives to Support Hiring of People with Disabilities 

By Anna Lucchese, Policy Fellow and Dalton Goble, Policy Fellow

In this rapidly changing world of workforce development, businesses are seeking to diversify their staff through a variety of ways. Hiring people with disabilities is a beneficial option for organizations to achieve this goal while addressing labor needs and obtaining competitive advantages. Studies have indicated that hiring individuals with disabilities improves profitability, productivity, customer satisfaction and inclusive work culture. To encourage these positive outcomes, state governments have worked closely to construct policies that engage the private sector and provide meaningful job opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Continue reading “Engaging the Private Sector: States Employ Tax Incentives to Support Hiring of People with Disabilities “

Order of Selection: How Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies Prioritize Service to Individuals with Disabilities 

By Anna Lucchese, Policy Fellow

State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies assist individuals with disabilities to prepare for, secure, retain, advance in, or regain employment that is consistent with the individual’s unique strengths, abilities, interests, and informed choice. Due to limited funding, State VR agencies do not always have the capacity to serve everyone eligible for VR services. Order of Selection (OOS) was therefore included in Title I of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to prioritize individuals already receiving assistance from these agencies. OOS requires that during times when resources are scarce, VR agencies must create “the order to be followed in selecting eligible individuals to be provided vocational rehabilitation services.” As of April 2022, there are 41 VR agencies that use the OOS system and 37 VR agencies that do not.

Continue reading

The American Rescue Plan Act: State Recovery Plans Outline Intent to Support Workers with Disabilities

By Rachel Wright, Policy Analyst

In March 2021, Congress passed, and President Biden signed, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The $1.9 trillion package is intended to combat the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. ARPA established the State Fiscal Recovery Fund (SFRF), allocating $195.3 billion to the states, District of Columbia and U.S. territories for COVID-19 relief and recovery. SFRF funds are intended to support government programs that respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency and its negative economic impacts.

Continue reading “The American Rescue Plan Act: State Recovery Plans Outline Intent to Support Workers with Disabilities”

U.S. Department of Labor Announces Rule to Increase Minimum Wage for Federal Contract Employees

By Abeer Sikder, Policy Analyst

On November 24, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor published a final rule that increases the hourly minimum wage to $15 for federal contract employees beginning January 30, 2022, up from the current rate of $10.95 per hour. The rule also eliminates the exemption for federal contractors with disabilities to be paid less than the minimum wage.

Continue reading “U.S. Department of Labor Announces Rule to Increase Minimum Wage for Federal Contract Employees”

Federal and State Subminimum Wage Legal and Policy Framework

State Exchange on Employment & Disability

Federal Legal and Policy Framework

Under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers are authorized, after receiving a certificate from the Wage and Hour Division, to pay subminimum wages (SMWs)—wages less than the federal minimum wage—to workers who have disabilities “for the job  being performed.” The certificate also allows the payment of wages that are less than the prevailing wage to workers who have disabilities for the work being performed on contracts subject to the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA) and the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (PCA).

Continue reading “Federal and State Subminimum Wage Legal and Policy Framework”

Apprenticeships the Focus of New CSG Report, Upcoming Zoom Event

By Sean Slone, Senior Policy Analyst

Despite some obstacles early on in the pandemic, apprenticeship programs appear to have a bright future with states exploring a variety of strategies to strengthen an important career pathway for all, including individuals with disabilities. While apprenticeships have traditionally been limited to industries like construction, manufacturing and transportation, that is starting to change with states and employers offering opportunities in fields like state government, health care, information technology, and cybersecurity.

That is one of the conclusions of a new report from The Council of State Governments and the State Exchange on Employment & Disability titled, “The Future of Apprenticeship: Inclusion, Expansion, and the Post-Pandemic World of Work.”

(more…)

Ride-Share Platforms Continue Expansion into Medical Transportation

As of last December, 3.6 million Americans avoid or are unable to leave their homes because of travel-limiting disabilities (Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2018). While an increasing number of services, including mental health care and retail delivery, are now available with the push of a button, many people with disabilities have critical needs that must still be met through in-person appointments. These individuals are also less likely to own a vehicle. In 2018, 20% of non-workers and 12% of workers with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 64 lived in households without a vehicle (Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2018), while the national percentage of households without a vehicle in 2017 was 7.9% (Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2017).

Continue reading “Ride-Share Platforms Continue Expansion into Medical Transportation”

SEED Initiative Recognized During National Disability Employment Awareness Month

By Jorden Jones, Policy Fellow

Approximately 56.7 million Americans live with a disability and a significant percentage of these individuals continue to have difficulty finding, securing and retaining employment, despite the unemployment rate hovering at a 50-year low. National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) highlights the expertise and skill sets people with disabilities possess and the vital role they play in America’s economy.

Continue reading “SEED Initiative Recognized During National Disability Employment Awareness Month”

State Medicaid Buy-In Programs for Workers with Disabilities

By Sydney Geiger

Fear of losing Medicaid coverage can deter people with disabilities from entering the labor market. Medicaid buy-in programs allow workers with disabilities to purchase Medicaid coverage that enables them to participate in the workforce without losing health care benefits. A large majority of states such as Colorado, Illinois and Ohio, amongst others, are participating in or pursuing these kinds of programs.

Continue reading “State Medicaid Buy-In Programs for Workers with Disabilities”