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  • Meg O'Connell

People With Disabilities Face Record High Unemployment: 5 Tips to Take Action

Updated: May 20

Just a few months ago, in February, as we were just starting to hear about Covid-19 we were also experiencing record low unemployment and a thriving economy. As we enter the second week in May the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction and we are now experiencing the highest unemployment rate since The Great Depression.


These are uncertain times, and for those with disabilities the impact is even greater. In April, the unemployment rate jumped 10% for both those with and without disabilities, bringing the April unemployment rate for those without a disability to 14.3% and 18.9% for those with a disability, as reported by the Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy.



*People without disability projections provided by Kevin Hassett, White House Economic Advisor. People with Disabilities projections provided by Meg O’Connell, President of Global Disability Inclusion based on trends.


Unfortunately, May unemployment rates are likely not the bottom, and we have many months ahead of economic uncertainty. Our recent survey of over 500 participants on The Impact of Covid-19: People with Disabilities compared to those without Disabilities revealed people with disabilities are already more negatively impacted by Covid-19.


Unemployment presents a great deal of uncertainty, fear, and anxiety. As a Human Resource Professional, I would like to offer five suggestions to help you prepare during this time, take action, and look for the opportunities ahead.


1. Update/Create Your Resume: If you have a resume take time to update it. If you don’t have one now is a great time to create one. Check out this site for some great tips.


2. Look Outside Your Industry & Comfort Zone: If your industry has been hit particularly hard it will be important to look to some new industries that are thriving. Look for opportunities of how your existing work skills crossover into other industries.


3. Learn A New Skill: Many colleges, universities and companies are offering free online training. Now is a great time to take some courses in your existing field, or a field that is of interest to you and learn something new. If you want to change industries, begin getting smart on the industry you want to join. Here is a link to free courses offered by Harvard University https://online-learning.harvard.edu/catalog/free


4. Part-Time Employment: Fill the gap with part-time work. It will keep you busy and will help ease financial stress. Look in your local community, or online for part-time work.


5. Remote Work Opportunities: It is true the work environment is changing, and many people might be anxious about re-entering a crowded work-space. Now is a great time to look for remote work options. Visit www.indeed.com and when you search location enter “remote” and all remote options will come up. Be sure to choose various industries to get the full view of what might be available to you.


May is also Mental Health Awareness month, so while you are focusing on your future work opportunities, it is also important to take positive steps to manage stress and anxiety, by exercising, eating well, sleeping well, meditating, and staying connected (even remotely) with your family and friends.


If you feel you need to talk to someone outside of your family or friends there are a few online resources available where you can find a therapist that will help you. Try www.talkspace.com. or www.e-counseling.com. Both of these resources provide access to certified therapist and mental health professionals.


Finally, if you are feeling in crisis please call the suicide prevention hotline Call 800-273-TALK (8255).


Stay Safe. Be Well. Look for Opportunities.

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