“Snapshot” Offers Insight on Maine Workers with Disabilities Bookmark and Share

September 28, 2012

October is national “Disability Employment Awareness Month.”

AUGUSTA — About 40 percent of Maine people with disabilities are working according to a new report release by the LePage Administration. The report, Snapshot 2012: Maine Workers with Disabilities, was developed by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS), which is part of the Maine Department of Labor.

BRS’s primary mission is to assist people with disabilities in gaining meaningful employment through vocational rehabilitation. Snapshot 2012: Maine Workers with Disabilities presents an overview of employment status and services for people with disabilities in Maine. It illustrates the types of challenges facing individuals with disabilities who are interested in entering or re-entering the workforce and the importance of support services. According to the Snapshot, from 2008 through 2010, 16 percent of the State’s population – an average of 206,400 persons – had one or more disabilities, compared to a 12 percent average nationwide. About 13 percent of Maine’s working-age adults had one or more disabilities.

For that same time period, working-age adults with disabilities were about half as likely to work or seek work as adults with no disability. In Maine, 40 percent of people with disabilities were employed compared to 42 percent nationally. Average unemployment among Mainers with disabilities was 17 percent compared to 6 percent among Mainers with no disability. Forty-five percent of workers with disabilities held full-time, year-round jobs, compared to 62 percent of employed workers with no disability. The complete report can be found at on the webpage of the Center for Workforce Research and Information, www.maine.gov/labor/cwri , which compiled the data.

Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette described the importance of raising awareness of the employment needs of people with disabilities. “Employers need to learn about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities. Their presence in the workplace sends an important and positive message to customers, and the contributions they make each day are significant.” She added, “With an aging population, Maine will continue to have a need to connect these workers with good jobs.”

The Bureau of Rehabilitation Services of the Maine Department of Labor provides a variety of services to help people with severe disabilities get or keep a job. These services include job development and placement, job training and rehabilitation technology. In fiscal year 2011, 816 people with significant disabilities entered competitive employment and stayed employed for a minimum of 90 days after receiving BRS services.

Several factors influence rates of disability, including general health, social environment, economic conditions, demographic trends, environmental factors, social mores and financial incentives. Another contributing factor is the number of Maine residents who are veterans. In 2011, Maine had the fourth-highest percentage of veterans in the nation. Recent data indicates that, on average, the rate of disability among veterans is higher than among non-veterans.

Snapshot 2012 was funded by a federal Medicaid Infrastructure Grant (MIG) awarded to DHHS by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The purpose of the MIG grant is to improve competitive employment opportunities for people with disabilities in their communities.

Individuals with disabilities bring strength and diversity to Maine's workforce. Employers interested in hiring people with disabilities or individuals with a disability interested in learning about vocational rehabilitation should contact visit the Employment for Maine website, www.EmploymentforME.org , or call the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services at (207) 623-6799.

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Media Advisory: “Disability Employment Awareness Month”-related events open to the media. Contact Julie Rabinowitz, 207-621-5009, for more information.

October 15 – Asset Summit, Calais, Washington County Community College, 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

October 22 – Disability Mentoring Day (DMD), Bangor, Maine Housing Gym, 161 Davis Road, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 28, 2012 Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, 207-621-5009