October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and advocates for people with disabilities are calling on employers to take a more inclusive approach as the scramble to fill open positions.
Worker shortages have been the focus of national headlines in light of the pandemic, but not every demographic is being heavily recruited.
Brooke Lovelace, executive director of the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, said jobless rates for people with disabilities remain stubbornly high, so now is a good time for employers to reexamine their hiring policies.
According to federal data, the jobless rate for folks with disabilities is 11.5%, compared to just over 5% for the rest of the population. Meanwhile, job posting websites, including Iowa’s Workforce Development portal, show anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 openings around the state.
Lovelace said workers with disabilities offer a wide range of skill sets. She noted banks are struggling to find employees right now, and the insurance industry also has a strong presence in Iowa.
She said she feels companies in those industries and others should be more inclusive in their hiring as the economy lurches through the pandemic.
Iowa has a tax-credit program designed to encourage hiring of workers with disabilities. It includes a maximum deduction of $20,000 per employee.