Economic Downturn Hurts Everybody, But Hope Is On the Horizon

Though the recession impacted most everyone, people with disabilities were hit especially hard. Young and old individuals alike have had difficulty finding jobs over the past few years, and the unemployment rates for the same age groups of people with disabilities have been nearly double those of people without disabilities. Moreover, many people with disabilities in the age range 50-65 are becoming discouraged by their lack of options, and, thus, dropping out of the labor force entirely. But, numbers from the second quarter of 2012 brought hope that high unemployment rates across the board may be on their way out.

Unemployment rates for people with disabilities are high even when the economy is strong. In 1995, when the unemployment rate for people without disabilities was 5.6%, it was near 35% for people with disabilities. Over the past decades, that gap has narrowed significantly, but even as recently as 2010 we have seen unemployment rates of people with disabilities twice as high as those of people without disabilities. Unfortunately, even more so than those in the 50-65 age range, the people who tend to suffer most are the young adults with disabilities who find it very difficult to transition into the workforce. Yet, some experts believe that the worst of the recession is behind us, which means an increase in job availability and, hopefully, people of all abilities will be there to fill them.

Despite a small spike in the first quarter, more recently unemployment rates are on the decline. According to the US Department of Labor, in the second quarter of 2012, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 12.9%, which is uncharacteristically low for the demographic. Though it was 7.8% for people without disabilities, an unemployment rate of 12.9% bodes well for adults with disabilities looking to enter or reenter the workforce. In order to combat these statistics, many people with disabilities seek disabled employment services. Through education, training and job placement services specifically designed for adults with disabilities, these individuals can use their knowledge and skills to find employment.

With many supportive services available for young adults with disabilities, including vocational and life skills training and job placement assistance, they can become better prepared to enter the workforce. Supportive services help bridge the gap between adults with disabilities and adults without disabilities in their pursuit of employment. Transitional residential services are often available too.

Southwest Center for Higher Independence (SCHI) provides young adults with disabilities a variety of life skills and vocational training opportunities, including a basic culinary education course in preparation for employment in a commercial kitchen. The SCHI program is typically 18 months and offers a residential dormitory for those students who wish to live on campus. Commuter options for San Antonio residents are also available. The 25-acre SCHI campus facilities also include a swimming pool, computer labs, gym, cafeteria and social activity center. SCHI is licensed by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. For more information on Providence Place’s Southwest Center for Higher Independence, visit


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