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Release: Immediate

Iowa study: Temping gives boost to disabled workers

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The temporary staffing industry provides a vital link to permanent, full-time employment for people with disabilities, according to a new, initial study of the nation's largest temporary staffing company conducted by a University of Iowa researcher and expert on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The study, conducted by Peter Blanck, director of the Law, Health Policy and Disability Center at the UI, and commissioned by Iowa Creative Employment Options (Iowa CEO), is the first to focus on the ability of the staffing industry to provide jobs for people with disabilities and to help disabled people move into full-time employment.

The study, "The Emerging Role of the Staffing Industry in the Employment of Persons with Disabilities," used a case study format to examine how Manpower Inc., the world's largest staffing firm, puts people with disabilities to work.

Blanck and Mitchell Fromstein, Manpower chairman and chief executive officer, will discuss the findings of the report Friday, June 12 at the CHOICES Conference in Chicago. The conference is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in conjunction with the Shriner's Hospital for Children.

Among the findings:

-- Opportunities. Of the people studied, 60 percent moved from no employment to permanent employment as a result of their work with Manpower. Annually, about 40 percent of Manpower's workforce makes that move.

-- Choices. Of the people studied, 90 percent were placed in an industry or job that they wanted and into jobs that matched their skills. Nearly all found positions paying more than minimum wage.

-- Retention. Of those studied, 90 percent remained in the workforce, either through a series of temporary appointments or in permanent jobs, throughout the course of the study.

-- Transition. Of the people studied, 90 percent were at work within 10 days of applying to Manpower.

-- Costs. The study found no direct costs to Manpower or to its customer companies in accommodating the workers in the report.

"We hope that these initial findings will suggest important implications for policymakers, employers, and others in expanding employment opportunities for qualified individuals with disabilities in ways that are consistent with the spirit and goals of the ADA," Blanck said.

Iowa CEO commissioned the report in response to the continuing high unemployment rate -- at 60 percent or above -- for people with disabilities.

Manpower, based in Milwaukee, Wis., annually puts more than 2 million people to work throughout the world. The company's employment processes evaluate, prepare and place qualified workers into jobs.

Fromstein said the study highlights a key principle of the company's success.

"From its inception, our company has focused on what people can do in the workplace, rather than what they cannot do," Fromstein said.

For the study, Blanck and researcher Patrick Steele of Iowa CEO, looked at employment records of Manpower employees from across the country with a range of disabilities, including hearing impairments, blindness, and physical disabilities. Using archival analysis and in-depth telephone interviews with employees at all levels of the company, they compiled case studies of people with disabilities, analyzing how they had fared in finding temporary and permanent positions through Manpower.

"This is just the initial step in studying an area that's never been looked at before," Blanck said. "But at a time with record employment for most workers, and chronic unemployment for the disabled, it's clear that the staffing industry can be a major player for people with disabilities to find good jobs without governmental assistance."

"And that helps everyone: the people who find excellent jobs, the staffing industry, and the companies who hire employees through staffing companies like Manpower," Blanck said.

Blanck, professor of law at the UI, also is the author of a two-part report, issued in 1994 and 1996, that found the average cost to businesses of accommodating employees is about $45, much less than many critics had theorized. That study looked at the employment records of Sears, Roebuck and Co., which employs about 20,000 people with disabilities among its 300,000 employeesIowa CEO is a state agency affiliated with the University of Iowa that helps Iowa businesses employ people with disabilities.

6/11/98

For more information, contact:
Peter Blanck, director, University of Iowa Law, Health Policy and Disability Center, phone: (319) 335-9043.
Patrick Steele, Iowa Creative Employment Options (Iowa CEO), phone: (515) 242-6532.
Gretchen Kreske, Manpower, phone: (414) 906-6540