I have been looking for work since 2019. I’ve filled out hundreds of job applications since then, and have interviewed only five times, and have received no offers. Since the pandemic began, I’ve been hearing about businesses that are having trouble finding employees. New information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in January, there were not enough workers to fill the country’s 11.3 million open positions. However, in 2021, 19.1 percent of people with disabilities worked in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. People with disabilities are an undervalued part of the labor force. I want to be a taxpaying citizen and work for a living. I’ve had high hopes for myself since childhood. I knew that I wanted to attend college by the time I was in elementary school. For the longest time, I wanted to be a surgeon. I’ve always wanted to help people with challenges like mine.
If only 19.1% of people with disabilities were employed, then the unemployment rate for disabled Americans in 2021 was roughly 80.9%. Working should be possible for those with disabilities. In the United States, Equal Employment Opportunity is the law. Sadly, discrimination is widespread in the workplace.
Millions of disabled Americans are unemployed, and many of them are capable of working. Cerebral Palsy doesn’t mean I can’t work, but I need an employer to give me an opportunity. It hurts whenever I see “now hiring” signs at businesses where my job applications were rejected. Having a disability shouldn’t mean that someone can’t find a job. Too often, employers don’t want to hire me after I disclose my disability.
In April, the manager of a Homewood Suites hotel rescinded my interview after I told her that I am disabled. I’ll be unemployed forever if attitudes don’t change. I’d rather not rely on SSI for the rest of my life, especially because I’m capable of working. In college, the staff at the career center on campus acted surprised to see me there. I felt unwelcome there. After looking at various opportunities, I contacted a woman who runs a publishing business. I was disappointed to learn that her office was inaccessible.
I’m 22-years-old, and have never held a paying job. In high school, I wanted to work part-time like many of my peers. I wanted to work to save up for college, and help my family out. It has only become harder as I’ve gotten older. My younger sister has now found her second job before I’ve found my first one. This frustrates me so much. If an 18-year-old can find work, I should be able to as well, and I can’t. I can’t help that I have Cerebral Palsy, and it is frustrating that employers discriminate against me because of it.
I want to live in a world where people with disabilities are treated equally. People with disabilities can be of any age, race, sexual orientation, or gender. In addition, people can develop disabilities at any time as a result of disease, an accident, or an injury. People with disabilities should have the same opportunities as everyone else!
“Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary – 2021.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24 Feb. 2022, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.nr0.htm.
Tappe, Anneken. “No End to the Worker Shortage: America Had 11.3 Million Jobs Available in January.” CNN, Cable News Network, 9 Mar. 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/09/economy/us-job-openings-quits-january/index.html.
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