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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

ODEP News Release: [02/5/2009]
Contact Name: Bennett Gamble or Gary Steinberg
Phone Number: (202) 693-4667 or (202) 691-5902
Release Number: 09-0133-NAT

U.S. Labor Department to begin new monthly data series on people with disabilities from Current Population Survey on Feb. 6

Data will mark 1st official measure of unemployment rate facing Americans with disabilities

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor will, for the first time, release employment and unemployment data on people with disabilities on Friday, Feb. 6. This information will assist the nation in understanding how changing labor market conditions affect Americans with disabilities. Although it is widely believed that this group typically faces a higher rate of unemployment than individuals without disabilities, official estimates were not available until now.

"Now that so many Americans are suffering job losses, there is a tremendous amount of attention being paid to employment problems and solutions affecting the general population. Americans with disabilities typically experience similar employment difficulties — even when there is a robust economy. The economic downturn may just exacerbate their struggle. These data will go far toward efforts to increase the employment of people with disabilities," said John Davey, deputy assistant secretary for the department's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

ODEP is sponsoring the collection of these data by the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) using the Current Population Survey (CPS), which provides comprehensive information on the employment status of the civilian, non-institutional population 16 years of age and older. Six disability questions have been added to the CPS to satisfy a requirement specified in Executive Order 13078, signed by President Bill Clinton, to measure the employment status of people with disabilities on a timely basis.

Beginning Feb. 6 at about 8:30 a.m. EST, BLS and ODEP will publish on their Web sites — at www.bls.gov/cps/cpsdisability.htm and www.dol.gov/odep, respectively — data on individuals with disabilities. The disability data to be released on this date will cover October 2008 through January 2009. Thereafter, the data will be updated monthly.

ODEP is leading a 21st century federal response to the historic underemployment of people with disabilities. In collaboration with other government agencies, public and private employers, and additional stakeholders, ODEP facilitates the development and implementation of innovative policies and practices necessary to achieve a fully inclusive workplace. ODEP's work primarily falls into three categories: employers and the workplace; workforce systems; and employment-related supports, which include education and training, health care, reliable transportation, affordable housing and assistive technology.