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The impact of the Great Recession upon the unemployment of Americans with disabilities

by Neeta P. Fogg, Paul E. Harrington and Brian T. McMahon

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Recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics allows assessment of the impact of the Great Recession on working age persons with disabilities in America. Following an overview of the nature and scope of the Great Recession, the labor market experiences of persons with and without disability are compared for 16 of the 22 months of its duration. Differences which favor those without disabilities were detected in the labor market activity rate, the official unemployment rate, and in the desire for work among those who have quit the workforce. These differences persist among subgroups based upon age and educational attainment. The level of educational attainment appears to not provide the same level of insulation from the consequences of labor market downturns for persons with disabilities as it does for persons without disabilities. Finally, the reasons for unemployment are quite different for persons with and without disabilities.

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