Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Impact of Focused Innovation

Nationally the unemployment rate of people with significant disabilities is 75%. Look at what is happening to our economy with a nearly 10% unemployment rate. Imagine how devastating the unemployment rate is to a group of people who want to work and have so much to contribute. In Washington State it its less. It’s more like 55% or so, because of the Working Age Adult Policy and innovations that AtWork! and other programs have been able to develop. We’ve done a better job of placing people in community jobs than every other state in the country! National statistics show that Washington State Supported Employment programs have the highest cost/benefit ratio in the nation. For every $1 spent on supported employment, $1.76 is returned to the taxpayer.

AtWork! currently supports 70 people in jobs in the community. About 50 work in our social enterprises. We are working to find jobs for over 100 people with disabilities who are discovering their talents. Staff work to customize opportunities with employers so that the job match is a win-win for both parties. AtWork! used to place one or two people a year in community jobs. Now we place 20 to 25. In 2011 our goal is to place 50 people and we are on track to meet that goal.

Think about 6,000 people with developmental disabilities, and that means intellectual and physical disabilities, who worked in Washington State last year. They earned about $42 million in wages. That’s a big contribution to our economy and is really recognized as an opportunity for employers to take advantage of the unique talents that a person with disabilities brings to their business.

It also increases their market share because 1 in 4 people either is a person with a disability or knows someone who has a disability or is related to someone with a disability or has a neighbor with a disability. People with disabilities who earn income buy things and their families and friends buy things. A lot of people care about businesses that employ people with disabilities, they see them as more community minded and supportive, and so they take their business there.

In the end, it benefits us all by working together to employ people with disabilities.

posted by AtWork! at


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