By Kathy Krepcio Executive Director, Disability Employment, Research Design, Workforce Policy at the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development Earlier this month, the nation celebrated Labor Day, a national holiday designed to pay tribute to the contributions and achievement of American workers. As many of us know, work is an important part of our lives. It’s not only a source of income and economic support, it also provides daily structure and focus; makes life meaningful; offers an outlet for acquiring, developing, and mastering skills and knowledge; and for building social relationships. Americans work in all kinds of job settings, sometimes for themselves, and for all types of employers—large, small, private companies, and public agencies. While a very large portion work in the private sector, more than 19 million Americans work in some type of full- and part-time public-sector job, and more than 5 million work in non-education state government positions. In many communities across the United States, particularly in rural areas, the public sector is still one of the largest employers—equal or larger in size to such industries as construction and information technology. For individuals with disabilities residing in communities where public-sector jobs are an important part of the local and state economy, several governors are opening doors by developing stronger policies and strategic practices with a focused goal of improving the recruitment, hiring, retention, and advancement of individuals with disabilities into state agencies. As noted by Governor Markell of Delaware in his National Governors Association Blueprint for Governors, A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities, states have heard from business that they are more likely to hire jobseekers with disabilities if state government leads the way in their own policies and practices. And some state governments are doing just that—looking to increase the number of people into state government by adopting a number of practices that will open up greater opportunities for employment in a wide variety of state agencies and positions. Practices that states are using to advance opportunities come in many forms, from creating better education and awareness among hiring managers and retooling human resources’ practices, to providing leadership by setting hiring goals and tracking progress. Whatever tools, practices, and strategies that states choose to use to match their unique circumstances and hiring environments, they all offer a chance to help state agencies find skilled workers while providing jobseekers with disabilities access to good jobs in their local communities. Click here to read the full report.