Individuals with disabilities have the highest (80%) rate of unemployment and are an untapped source of qualified candidates. People with disabilities contribute to a diverse, innovative workforce; have equal to or higher performance rates; and are less likely to resign than non-disabled workers. Employment contributes to the state economy and can reduce individual poverty and dependency on systems of long-term services and supports.
Services have shifted away from employment and job supports to non-work services that do not assist participants in accessing a productive career path and meaningful work in the community. National efforts are in place to increase opportunities for integrated employment with a meaningful wage. A total of 32 states have legislation, a formal policy directive, or other official state mandate addressing employment as a priority outcome. North Carolina has many employment initiatives in place, but does not yet have a statewide policy to address employment for persons with disabilities, despite it being a priority goal among individuals.