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21,000 Californians With Disabilities Lost Jobs Even Before the Coronavirus

RespectAbility to hold LA session on Thursday, March 12th on “How Disability Inclusion & Equity Can Add to Your Success”

Los Angeles, CA, Mar. 9 – Even as coronavirus quickly escalates into a major economic disruption for the nation, new data shows that Californians with disabilities already were struggling to keep their place in the state’s labor force.

According to the recently released 2019 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, there are more than 1.8 million working-age Californians living with a disclosed disability, but only 700,456 have jobs. That puts putting California’s disability employment rate at just 36.9 percent, below the already low national average of 37 percent. This rate is less than half of the 75.6 percent of Californians without disabilities who have jobs.

Studies by the nonpartisan disability inclusion organization RespectAbility shows that more than 21,000 working-age Californians with disabilities left the workforce in 2018, a substantial retrenchment after two years of significant job gains for job seekers with disabilities.

“This is a major loss for the state and for California’s disability community,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, RespectAbility’s Founder. “People with disabilities overwhelmingly want to work but they are losing ground and being excluded from California’s vibrant economy. Today, with the coronavirus, we are worried about job security for all people. But we are especially concerned for people with disabilities, many of whom need income from work to pay for additional healthcare costs and who may be living paycheck to paycheck to maintain their ability to live independently in the community.”

According to the latest analysis by Glassdoor, prior to the onset of the virus there were 219,000 job openings in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area alone, with more than half a million working-age Angelenos living with a disability, according to the Institute on Disability. Disability includes those with readily apparent conditions such as blindness, deafness or spinal cord injuries as well as nonvisible disabilities including mental health conditions, learning disabilities or Autism.

“This population has talents, skills and drive, but has been consistently underutilized by Los Angeles employers,” said Matan Koch, Director of RespectAbility California and Jewish Leadership. “We need to work together to find solutions that will advance opportunities for a more inclusive economy. Workers with disabilities are a pool of loyal talent, bringing innovation and success to organizations.”

On Thursday, March 12th at noon at the LA Campus of Hebrew Union College, RespectAbility will hold a free lunch session on “How Disability Inclusion & Equity Can Add to Your Success.”

This session is open to the media and is for employers, philanthropists, nonprofits, social justice activists, faith leaders and diversity professionals. Speakers include Matan Koch, Director of RespectAbility California and Jewish Leadership, Lauren Appelbaum, Vice President of RespectAbility and Tatiana Lee, Hollywood Inclusionist at RespectAbility.

Said Koch, “This year climate crisis activist Greta Thunberg was recognized as TIME magazine person of the year. Autistic, she calls her neurodivergence her ‘superpower.’ History indicates some of the most talented and impactful people on earth also have disabilities – from Harriet Tubman who had epilepsy and Thomas Edison who was deaf to artist Frida Kahlo with mobility disabilities. California employers must not miss out on this talent.”

RSVPs are required. For more information and to register go here:

For more information contact:

Matan Koch, VP of Workforce and Faith Programs: [email protected]
Lauren Appelbaum, VP of Entertainment and News Media: [email protected]

Meet the Author

Philip Pauli

Philip Kahn-Pauli is the Policy and Practices Director of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities. He works with state leaders to develop solutions for youth with disabilities, support job seekers with disabilities and open pathways into the workforce. To reach him, email [email protected]

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