Companies Reap the Benefits of Employing People with Disabilities

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Life Skills Shows That Employing People with Developmental Disabilities Adds to the Bottom Line

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October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Life Skills works with more than 130 employers throughout the St. Louis area by preparing 350 people with developmental disabilities for meaningful employment through individual skills assessment, job coaching and ongoing retention services. In honor of this month dedicated to increasing the awareness of the contributions and skills of American workers with disabilities, Life Skills demonstrates that hiring people with disabilities offers wonderful benefits for the hiring company’s bottom line:

  •     Low Employee Turnover: Strong employer loyalty pays off in reduced costs associated with turnover. A three-year study at Washington Mutual, Inc. found a turnover rate of 8 percent among people with developmental disabilities, compared with an overall rate of 45% in the general population, according to an article in Crain’s Chicago Business (April 7, 2003).
  •     Economic Incentives: Hiring workers with developmental disabilities can make your company eligible for economic incentives such as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. This federal tax credit program encourages employment of nine targeted groups of job seekers by reducing employers’ federal income tax liability by as much as $2,400 per qualified new worker.
  •     Dedicated and Reliable Employees: People with developmental disabilities have built a reputation for themselves as hard-working and dedicated employees who take pride in their work and the organizations that employ them.
  •     Community Recognition: Customers love to support companies that make a difference in the lives of others. Employing people with developmental disabilities shows that you care about your community.

With all the persuasive reasons to employ people with developmental disabilities, only 32% of Americans with disabilities, aged 18 to 64, are working. According to a survey by the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, two thirds of the 68% who are unemployed would rather be working.

Life Skills achieved a 91% success rate for the 2009 fiscal year in helping individuals obtain jobs, receive coaching and move to retention. Fifty-seven percent of Life Skills’ clients are in non-traditional positions, such as office work, record keeping, manufacturing, etc.

Life Skills, a United Way agency, has assisted people with developmental disabilities to live and work in the St. Louis community for more than 45 years. Life Skills currently helps more than 1,500 adults and teens to live in their own home and to find and keep a job. For more information, please visit

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Leigh Albright

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