By Kristen Faye Bean, MSW
Although many sustainability concerns concentrate on environmental issues, the United States’ (U.S.) economic downturn that began in December 2007 highlights issues of economic sustainability. The entire U.S. economy is struggling to sustain the power that it has upheld in the world economy. Businesses worry about maintaining profits with minimal costs, and employees are concerned about job sustainability. Employers have begun to focus on aspects of their business that are more robust to economic downturn. The layoffs since December 2007 have been distributed among many different industries; the third quarter of 2009 showed that manufacturing firms, construction, professional and technical services, and management of companies and enterprises had experienced mass layoffs (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009). Because of the relatively equal distribution of layoffs, it is unclear what types of employees businesses are relying on to sustain profits with minimal costs. This paper explores whether employees with disabilities are an integral labor market for businesses during weak economic periods.