National Governor’s Association launches disability employment iniatitive

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Governors employment initiative

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell announced July 15 that improving employment prospects for people with disabilities will be his prime initiative during his one-year term as chairman of the National Governors Association.

The initiative, titled “A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities,” aims to create a public-private partnership to improve the dismally low employment rate for people with disabilities. Along with calling it “the right thing to do,” Markell said hiring people with disabilities makes “good business sense,” and is essential for governments looking to incentive independent living.

“The bottom line is that there are so many people with disabilities who have the time, talent and desire to make meaningful contributions to interested employers,” Gov. Markell said in a news release. “More companies are recognizing that creating greater economic opportunity for these workers improves their own bottom line as well.

“It doesn’t matter whether you were born with additional challenges to face or – in the case of our wounded veterans for example – acquired them later in life. What matters is what you have to offer.”

The plan has received bipartisan support, most notably from Rep. Pete Sessions (R-AL), who recently toured a Walgreens distribution center with Markell, according to a Daily Beast article. Session is the chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee and the father of a child with Down Syndrome.

Along with Walgreens, Markelll highlighted companies such as Best Buy, IBM, Merck and Procter & Gamble as prime examples of companies taking steps to expand disability hiring as part of their company plans, according to a Huffington Post article.

The percentage of people who dropped out of the workforce, meaning that they have been unemployed for longer than six months, has fell five times faster for people with disabilities than for the rest of the workforce since 2008. The percentage of people with disabilities in the workforce now stands at 20 percent compared, to about 69 percent for the rest of the population.