According to a new federal report from the Office of Personnel Management, employment of people with disabilities by the U.S. government is at its highest level ever. OPM reported that at the close of the 2014 fiscal year, the government had more employees with disabilities and that those individuals made up a larger share of the workforce than at any other time since records began to be kept 34 years ago.
The annual report to President Barack Obama on disability hiring said that federal offices hired 20,615 people with disabilities last year. That brought the total number of employees with disabilities to 247,608. Of that group, 1,424 new employees had targeted disabilities. That category includes intellectual disabilities, epilepsy, deafness, blindness, paralysis, missing extremities, dwarfism, and psychiatric disabilities.
The federal government is the United States’ largest employer. Obama issued an executive order in 2010 that pledged to increase the number of federal employees with disabilities by 100,000 within five years. In the four years after the executive order was issued, 72,000 full-time employees with disabilities were added to the federal workforce, according to OPM.
Beth Cobert, acting director of OPM, wrote in her report to Obama that the federal government is a model employer for people with disabilities. OPM is also working with federal agencies to make sure that employees with disabilities receive the training, mentoring, and reasonable accommodations they need to do their jobs.
This report shows that the United States is heading in the right direction in terms of hiring workers with disabilities. The federal government has recognized that people with disabilities have much to offer and can do their jobs as well as non-disabled workers. We hope that the federal government will continue to make progress and that the private sector will also hire more employees with disabilities.