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April 20, 2017 blog

Employment in Iowa

This blogpost is the first in a series focused on the employment of Iowans with disabilities.


The State Data Center of Iowa reported that in 2015, the unemployment rate in Iowa was 4.2%, but the unemployment rate for Iowans with a disability was more than double that at 9.7%. 

Unemployment statistics for persons with disabilities

While this statistic may be alarming due to the disparity between unemployed Iowans with disabilities and those without, it creates opportunity.  


Iowa has a shortage of workers and the need is expected to grow. By 2025, it is projected that Iowa’s economy will grow from 1.59 million jobs to 1.84 million jobs; an increase of roughly 250,000 new jobs (Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 2015).  Iowa businesses have an opportunity to diversify their workforce by employing individuals with disabilities, a largely untapped pool of applicants. Business services such as job analysis, job carving, and on-the-job training are a few of the helpful tools that businesses can access at no-cost through state agencies such as Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Iowa Department for the Blind, and Iowa Workforce Development. These partner agencies work together to identify needs and assist businesses in becoming as efficient as possible while simultaneously becoming more inclusive.  

The Bottom Line

1.  Employing people with disabilities makes good business sense for a variety of reasons.

  • Return on Investment to Business: retention rates among workers with disabilities are higher than average thus reducing the cost of turnover.
  • There are also tax credits available for businesses who qualify by employing individuals with disabilities.

2.  Customers with disabilities, their families and friends are loyal to supporting businesses and represent a trillion dollar market segment nationwide.

3.  Not only does a diverse workforce improve businesses bottom line, it helps our overall economy. When individuals with disabilities are employed they are less reliant on public assistance, they incur fewer medical-related costs, and they have more disposable income.


Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Iowa Department for the Blind

Iowa Workforce Development

Future Ready Iowa

Written by: Page Eastin, Office of Persons with Disabilities