DIDD Statewide Employment Rate Released
NASHVILLE—The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) announced today that the employment rate of persons supported in competitive, integrated employment is 16.6 percent. The number comes from the first round of results from a new data collection tool and reflects persons supported who are of working age and no longer in school.
Competitive, integrated employment (CIE) is defined as a workplace that pays at least minimum wage and includes workers with and without disabilities. CIE is the standard for professionals advocating for increased employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
“We’ve seen so many examples of people with disabilities who want to work and contribute to their communities,” said DIDD Commissioner Debra K. Payne. “When they can do that and earn a fair wage, it changes their whole outlook on life.”
This detailed data collection program begins at a time when the department and other stakeholders have made important gains to increase community employment opportunities for Tennesseans with disabilities through the Employment First Task Force.
“We are using this data to establish an accurate baseline, learn from our successes, channel resources to areas of need, refine our practices, and push the Employment First movement forward in Tennessee,” said Jeremy Norden-Paul, DIDD State Director of Employment and Day Services. “We are also using data to promote transparency about our services and demonstrate to stakeholders across the state that we can collectively increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities.”
The new data tool developed by DIDD asks agencies in the department’s provider network to complete a web-based questionnaire twice a year. Some of the questions include: Are the people you support employed? How many hours a week do they work? What wage do they earn? In what type of industry do they work?
The data reveals room for significant gains. While 16.6 percent of persons supported are in competitive, integrated employment, an independent statewide survey of people supported by DIDD showed that 36 percent of people not currently employed want a paid job in the community.
“When we’re talking about data, it’s easy to get caught up in numbers and tools, facts and figures, but we have to remember that these are peoples’ lives,” said Norden-Paul. “Every increase in that employment rate represents someone who’s gotten a job.”
Agencies in the DIDD provider network will report next in November on employment data from October.