New Florida Chamber Foundation Report Shows More Floridians with Disabilities Are Employed

Challenges and Opportunities Remain to Create Opportunities for Economic Prosperity


Tallahassee, Fla. (Jan. 17, 2019) – The Florida Chamber Foundation today released their Study of Employment of Floridians with a Disability Report, which shows more Floridians with a disability were employed in 2017- with the unemployment rate for Floridians with a disability falling nearly 7 percentage points from 2013 to 2017.


The report, which also includes county data for several metrics, shows that:

  • There are an estimated 2.67 million Floridians who indicate that they have a disability-13.4 percent of all Floridians. In the 18 to 64 age group — the group most likely to be in the workforce — 1.2 million Floridians indicate they have a disability.
  • The employment of Floridians with a disability has increased from 347,119 in 2013 to a total of 386,739 in 2017 —that’s an increase of 39,620 people.
  • Florida’s unemployment rate for people with a disability has dropped from 23.2 percent to 16.3 percent from 2013 to 2017.

“It is very important that we conduct research as a basis to consider progress and to determine what we and our partners are doing to make Florida’s workforce more inclusive for people with disabilities,” said Dr. Susanne Homant, President and CEO of The Able Trust. “This study not only shows how Florida as a whole is doing, it gives us insight into how each individual county is doing. We have a large untapped workforce resource in Florida and I urge business leaders to take some time to investigate this group. There are some really talented potential employees just waiting for an opportunity.”


While a declining unemployment rate for Floridians with disability is good news, challenges and opportunities still remain.


“As we look toward 2030, we know Florida will need to create approximately 1.7 million net new jobs, many in industries that don’t exist today,” said Dr. Jerry Parrish, Chief Economist of the Florida Chamber Foundation. “As we look at the number of people who are not in the workforce and compare it to future needs, it’s important to continue our state’s momentum and focus on creating pathways toward economic opportunity, diversifying and growing our economy, and ensuring Florida’s cradle to career system is ready to create the talent Florida’s businesses need.”


According to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s research, strategies to improve employment by persons with disabilities include:

  • Continue to Grow and Diversify Florida’s Economy
    The Florida Chamber Foundation recently released their 2019 Economic Outlook & Jobs Forecast for Florida, which shows that Florida is expected to create 150,000 new jobs in 2019, with a low chance of an economic recession. At the same time, Florida’s businesses continue to look for talented workers. In fact, according to*, there are 277,400 jobs looking for people and 335,000 people look for jobs. A healthy economy could mean more opportunity for workers with disabilities looking to enter the workforce
  • Grow Skills Training Opportunities
    Increasing the number of company and government internships, apprenticeships, mentoring, and other workforce experiences for persons with a disability, would allow more people to get valuable work experience to help them get that all-important first job or a job that lets them re-enter the workforce. Programs like The Able Trust’s High School High Tech and the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Person’s with Disabilities Internship Program seek to work with businesses to create hands-on training and skills development for persons with disabilities.
  • Remove Penalties Toward Economic Opportunity
    As the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Prosperity Initiative looks at the impact of fiscal cliffs, its important to remember that Floridians with disabilities face their own set of “fiscal cliffs,” or challenges to opportunities. Removing the penalties for workers with disabilities will help ensure that marginal increases in incomes do not result in severe losses of those programs that actually help them live independently and help them become able to work, provide for themselves, and advance in their careers.
  • Reduce Overall Poverty in Florida
    According to, Florida’s poverty rate currently sits at 15.5 percent, meaning more than 3 million Floridians today are dealing with the issues poverty brings. There is a connection between poverty and disability, in that if you reduce poverty you reduce the incidence of disability, and vice-versa.


The report, an update on the research released in 2016 and part of the Florida Chamber Foundation’s ongoing research, can be found at


For county specific data or for more information on the report, please contact


*as of 1.16.2019




The Florida Chamber Foundation is the business-led, solutions development and research organization working in partnership with state business leaders to secure Florida’s future. The Foundation’s “Six Pillars” serve as a visioning platform for developing the first-ever, long-term strategic plan for the state. The Foundation’s work focuses on: 1) Talent Supply and Education, 2) Innovation and Economic Development, 3) Infrastructure and Growth Leadership, 4) Business Climate and Competitiveness, 5) Civic and Governance Systems, and 6) Quality of Life and Quality Places. Founded in 1968, the Foundation is a crucial voice for improving the state’s pro-business climate to enable Florida to grow and prosper. Visit  for more information.

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