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Friday, April 19, 2024

Little Friends: Record employment for people with disabilities


With last month’s announcement of our new facility and plans to implement more opportunities for personal development and job training for people with disabilities, it seemed particularly timely that the Los Angeles Times on January 17, 2023, shared that “Americans with Disabilities are enjoying an employment boom—thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The article cited that given the overall labor shortage, historic opportunities have opened up for some of our nation’s most skilled and underutilized workers. It also stated that there is question as to whether or not these positions can be held given the prospect of a recession and more employers are asking employees to come back to the office. This is something that could affect an individual who may have difficulty with mobility and logistics tied to the office location.

According to the article, the ability to work remotely has been a huge benefit to people with disabilities. Further, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that employment of people with disabilities is up 25% since the pandemic/endemic began, with over 7.3 Million people being employed in November. Most impressive is that historically the jobless rate for workers with disabilities is in double digits and two years ago was 12.3%. In November 2022, the jobless rate dropped to 5.8%, the lowest rate it has been since this number started to be tracked back in 2008.

While this is a game changer, it doesn’t mean that more can’t be done to provide opportunity and skills for those individuals who are looking for employment whether it be full or part-time. The plans we announced to bring in new training opportunities when executed later this year are intended to help both individuals and businesses who seek talented resources for their organizations. We’re excited to be involved with this initiative and know we will have more to share in the changing time to come.

Last, and important to share, in late January we lost a good man who was dear to Little Friends and the Naperville community. Dan Casey, former owner of Casey’s Foods and long-time supporter of so many organizations in town, passed away last month. Dan believed in supporting the community he served and, as such, served on the Board of Directors of Little Friends for nearly 15 years, including several years as our Chairman of the Board. Dan was a good friend to many, and I know that we will miss him. Fortunately, the memories of his smile and wonderful way about him will always remain with us. His involvement made Naperville a better place to be!

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Mike Briggs
Mike Briggshttp://littlefriendsinc.org
Mike Briggs is the President and CEO of Little Friends. Little Friends empowers clients with autism and other developmental disabilities to thrive in our community. Their groundbreaking programs and nationally-renowned staff provide lifelong opportunities for growth, so their clients can work, learn, play and experience the joy of life’s everyday moments.


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