Due to recent criticism from disability advocates about the low numbers of state employees with disabilities, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has mandated that all state agencies must employ a minimum 7 percent of people with disabilities by 2018.
“This is important because it sets concrete goals and is something the administration and state departments can be held accountable to,” says Galen Smith, co-facilitator of the Minneapolis/St. Paul chapter of ADAPT. “It also has some education built in to help hiring managers understand what it means to hire folks with disabilities. I think it’s a step in the right direction.”
Minnesota state agencies boasted a disabled workforce of 10 percent in 1999 but in the early 2000s the numbers declined after many agencies stopped tracking employment figures. Last year the employment rate for people with disabilities was 3.2 percent. Dayton’s order is in response to the decline seen in his state and follows similar actions taken in California, Delaware, Florida, Ohio, Oregon and Washington state.
Besides mandating a 7 percent hiring rate, the governor’s order also requires all state hiring managers and human resources personnel to undergo training on the recruitment and hiring of people with disabilities and each agency must report their progress at the end of each quarter.