More people with disabilities in state workforce is goal

With employment of people with disabilities on the decline Gov. Mark Dayton wants that changed. On August 9, he issued an executive order directing all state government agencies to increase their employment of qualified Minnesotans with disabilities. Over the last 15 years, there has been a steady decline in the proportion of Minnesotans with disabilities employed by the state — from 10.1 percent of the state’s workforce in 1999, to just 3.2 percent in 2013. The executive order issued by Dayton directs state agencies to increase that level to 7 percent by 2018.

The order instructs Minnesota Management and Budget and the state director for Equal Opportunity to develop a model for recruitment and hiring strategies to increase the employment of people with disabilities. It also requires all state agencies to develop plans for promoting employment opportunities for Minnesotans with disabilities, and to begin reporting their progress on a quarterly basis. The order also directs the state management and budget office to develop ways to help employees more easily disclose their disability status with their employer.

In recent years, Minnesota has fallen behind neighboring states and the federal government in the hiring of individuals with disabilities. Currently, the states of Wisconsin and Iowa have achieved 5.8 percent, and 4.4 percent levels, respectively. The most recent figures for the federal government show that 5 percent of federal workers are individuals with disabilities. Developed in consultation with disability advocates, Minnesota’s new target of 7 percent will make the state a leader in the region for hiring people with disabilities.

Since taking office, Dayton and his administration have been committed to improving opportunities for all Minnesotans with disabilities. He has championed issues including more compensation for home care workers, quality long-term care, hiring of an Olmstead Plan office director, increased protections for vulnerable adults and stepped-up vocational rehabilitation efforts.

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