The federal government added people with disabilities to its payroll at a higher rate last year than at any other time in the last three decades.
More than 16,000 people with disabilities were hired by the U.S. government during fiscal year 2013, according to a new report from the Office of Personnel Management. That brought the total number of federal workers with disabilities to 234,395.
“This success has led to more people with disabilities (on board) in federal service, both in real terms and by percentage than at any time in the past 33 years,” wrote Katherine Archuleta, director of the Office of Personnel Management in her report to President Barack Obama.
By September 2013, people with disabilities accounted for 12.8 percent of federal employees, an increase of nearly 1 percent over the prior year, the report said.
At the same time, the number of workers with targeted disabilities — including intellectual disabilities, epilepsy, deafness, blindness, paralysis, missing extremities, dwarfism and psychiatric disabilities — also ticked up slightly to 18,665, federal officials said.
The increased hiring comes after Obama issued an executive order in 2010 calling on the federal government, as the nation’s largest employer, to hire 100,000 people with disabilities within five years.
Archuleta said the nation is on its way toward achieving that threshold, with 57,491 permanent employees with disabilities added during the first three years since the executive order took effect.
However, advocates say that the federal government ought to do more.
“While the last few years have seen some modest increases in the numbers of people with disabilities employed by the federal government, The Arc remains deeply concerned that many people with the most significant disabilities, including jobseekers with intellectual and developmental disabilities, are being left behind,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.
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by Shaun Heasley posted on December 15, 2014