Dr. Nye-Lengerman (MN UCEDD) Testifies Before U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging

July 30, 2018

Unemployment, underemployment, and poverty disproportionately affect people with disabilities and their families, yet research demonstrates that persons with disabilities are highly motivated workers with lower absenteeism and turnover, and higher rates of productivity. On Wednesday, July 18, at the Dirksen State Office Building in Washington, DC, Dr. Kelly Nye-Lengerman (MN UCEDD) was invited to speak on this issue when the Senate Special Committee on Aging holds a hearing on, "Supporting Economic Stability and Self-Sufficiency as Americans with Disabilities and Their Families Age."

The issue has attracted the subcommittee's attention, in part, because, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate is 4%, but 78% of people with disabilities experience unemployment. People with disabilities are more than twice as likely to live in poverty compared with those without a disability (27% vs. 11%), and the average household income for a family with a disability is nearly 45% less than the average U.S. household. "Many Americans with disabilities and their families are in a precarious situation, and employment is the primary pathway out of poverty," says Nye-Lengerman. "Supporting the employment of people with disabilities at any age is critical to ensuring their long-term economic security and well-being, and maximizing their contributions as citizens." Nye-Lengerman is an ICI Research Associate who focuses on lifespan issues related to community living for people with disabilities, employment, anti-poverty initiatives, public support programs, and workforce development.