Governors’ Role in Promoting Disability Employment in COVID-19 Recovery Strategies: Impacts of COVID-19 on People with Disabilities

National Governor's Association

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Because people with disabilities face disproportionate consequences of COVID-19, it will be critical to ensure adequate protections and supports are available to them in order to promote opportunities for safe and sustainable work.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected many who have historically faced significant barriers to employment, including people with disabilities, compounding the economic hardships many with disabilities faced before the pandemic. Traditionally, people with disabilities face persistently lower rates of employment and earn significantly lower wages compared to their peers without disabilities. The 2018 American Community Survey found that only 36 percent of people with disabilities were employed, compared to 77 percent of the total population. According to a 2019 Census Bureau report, workers with disabilities earn only two-thirds as much as the average worker without a disability. In addition to the increased health risk associated with the pandemic and increased risk of exposure in many in-person workplaces, people with disabilities have been confronted with lost wages, job loss and long-term unemployment. Governors and state policymakers must understand these impacts on people with disabilities and ensure that the economic recovery is inclusive of all Americans.

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