The job market may be warming up a little for people with disabilities.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting that the unemployment rate for the 27 million U.S. residents ages 16 and older fell to 13.5% in December 2011, down from 14.3% in December 2010.
For U.S. adults with no disabilities, the unemployment rate fell to 8.1%, from 8.9%.
In some cases, economists say, the unemployment rate drops because the job market is so bad that many workers give up on trying to find work.
The BLS figures suggest that some people with disabilities may still be dropping out of the work force. The labor market participation rate for adults with disabilities fell to 20.7%, from 21% a year earlier.
But the drop in the participation rate -- 0.3 percentage points -- is smaller than the 0.8-percentage-point drop in the unemployment rate, and Allsup Inc., Belleview, Ill., says Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) statistics also suggest that the job market for people with disabilities may be slightly less icy than it has been.
Allsup, a company that helps people with disabilities submit claims for SSDI benefits, says the number of people who applied for SSDI benefits fell 2% in 2011, to about 2.9 million.
"However, nearly 1.8 million SSDI claims are pending with an average cumulative wait time of more than 800 days," Allsup reports.