Tennessee’s Statewide Employment Rate Shows Increases for People with I/DD

According to a recent news release, the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) announced that the employment rate of persons supported in competitive, integrated employment has increased to 17.6 percent.  This marks a one percent increase from its first round of results collected in spring 2017 and reflects persons supported through DIDD’s waiver programs who are of working age and no longer in school.

According to the news article, “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.”

“The data is collected from DIDD providers twice a year, in partnership with EconSys, through a web-based questionnaire.  It looks at the overall rate, hourly wage, type of industry, and hours worked weekly.  The numbers reflect employment data from October 2017.” 

“We have set an ambitious goal to double the employment rate for people in the DIDD waivers by 2022,” DIDD Commissioner Debra K. Payne said.  “With this increase, we are currently on track to meet that goal, but will continue to work hard to ensure everyone who wants a paid job in the community has the opportunity to have one.”

Some key data points include:

  • A 5 percent increase in people working in CIE as proportion of all employment types, with a simultaneous decrease in Sheltered Work and Group Employment rates
  • A 5 percent increase in people supported by DIDD who are seeking employment
  • An increase in the number of monthly hours worked, rising from 40.1 hours in April 2017 to 45.7 hours in October 2017

 “As important as it is for us to celebrate our successes, it’s perhaps more important to identify areas where we aren’t seeing the improvement we want,” DIDD’s State Director of Employment and Day Services Jeremy Norden-Paul said.  “Having the data to provide insight into these key areas will allow us to channel resources to areas of need and learn more about the supports people need to gain and maintain employment in the community.”