Louisiana Publishes Employment First Report

The Louisiana Governor’s Office of Disability Affairs published the “Employment First Report.” The report was requested by the Governor and developed by the Employment First Workgroup that was formed in January 2017.  The report includes recommendations for moving forward on a cross-disability Employment First effort. The report states, “the lack of workforce participation by individuals with disabilities is a major issue in Louisiana. In the state, of the 372,000 working age adults with disabilities, only 33% participate in the labor force compared to 73% in the general population. For individuals with more significant disabilities, the workforce participation rate is even lower. In addition, many of the citizens with disabilities who have jobs are underemployed, working part-time at low wages.

 The issue of lack of employment of individuals with disabilities in Louisiana mirrors similar challenges across the United States. The result is that individuals with disabilities are more likely to be poor, living at the economic margins, with high reliance on public benefits to meet their needs. The impact on individual lives is significant in terms of quality of life and unfulfilled potential. However, the impact on society is also significant including the typical socio-economic impacts of individuals living in poverty (poor housing conditions, health, etc.), high demand on public benefit programs, and a major portion of the population that is not available to respond to the workforce needs of local businesses.”

 Louisiana has undertaken and will be pursuing the following specific objectives over the next year to increase employment efforts:

  • Convened an Ongoing Task Force to enable continued collaboration among State agencies and essential stakeholders in the implementation of an Employment First Agenda.
  • Applied for and is receiving technical assistance from the U. S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Policy, Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program.
  • The Governor signed an Executive Order launching a State as Model Employer initiative in Louisiana.
  • There are plans to develop a multi-purpose guide that describes resources for achieving competitive integrated employment, in the State of Louisiana.
  • There are plans to create a collaborative action plan to address areas such as training, regional collaboration, exploring innovative ideas, and overcoming barriers to employment.