Access Opportunity: Expanding Economic Opportunity for New Yorkers with Disabilities in the Post-Pandemic City

Mar 22, 2022 | by
  • Description

To achieve an equitable recovery for all New Yorkers, city leaders need to confront an economic crisis that long predates COVID-19, while being exacerbated by the pandemic: unemployment and underemployment among people with disabilities. Nearly 1 million New Yorkers are living with a disability, yet in 2021 nearly 17 percent of those of working age with a disability were unemployed—up from 7.4 percent in 2019. This disastrously high unemployment rate has persisted for much of the past two years, even as the unemployment rate for New Yorkers without a disability has fallen sharply since the summer of 2020.

This report—the latest in 25 years of research by the Center for an Urban Future on opportunities to build a more inclusive economy in New York City—provides a detailed look at the potential to expand economic opportunity for New Yorkers with disabilities. The study examines the economic barriers facing this diverse population and shines a light on concrete steps policymakers can take to significantly improve career training and employment outcomes. Made possible by Citi and The Taft Foundation, it was informed by extensive data analysis and interviews with more than 45 New Yorkers with disabilities, leaders of organizations serving people with disabilities, workforce development providers, City University of New York (CUNY) officials, accessibility experts, and key agency officials in government. The report concludes with actionable recommendations for New York City and State policymakers to greatly expand pathways to economic opportunity for people with disabilities.