Businesses that want to tap into the largest pool of unemployed Americans willing and able to work should sign up for a booth at “Louisiana Job Fairs 2006.” There will be nine events statewide aimed at matching employers who are hiring and people with disabilities who are looking for jobs.

Chambers of Commerce, Louisiana Business Leadership Network, the Medicaid Purchase Plan and other organizers are recruiting employers to participate in “Louisiana Job Fairs 2006” for people with disabilities. Events will be held in Baton Rouge on Oct. 4, Mandeville and Shreveport on Oct. 10, Alexandria and Monroe on Oct. 11, Lake Charles and New Orleans on Oct. 12, Lafayette on Oct. 24 and Houma on Oct. 31.

People with disabilities are both the largest minority in the United States and also the largest population of unemployed Americans. The American Community Survey shows that Louisiana is home to almost 400,000 people with disabilities who are of working age. Studies show that 275,000 of these adults with disabilities are unemployed but want to work.

Individuals with disabilities make up a large pool of qualified people who are motivated to work but are often overlooked in the hiring process. Louisiana Job Fairs 2006 will allow these individuals a chance to have access to employers in one location. In 2004 and 2005, the Job Fairs connected more than 3,000 job seekers with 327 businesses statewide. Organizers hope to connect more job seekers and businesses in 2006.

Businesses that hire people with disabilities should know that worker’s compensation rates are based on the relative hazards of a business operation and not whether workers have disabilities. National studies have shown that employees who have disabilities do not have a higher rate of absenteeism than those who do not.

Employers can download registration forms and get local event and contact information online at or

Louisiana Business Leadership Network, a nonprofit association led by businesses that value persons with disabilities as customers and employees, is the statewide coordinator of the job fairs. The Medicaid Purchase Plan, a Louisiana Department of Health program that provides health care coverage to people with disabilities who work, is the statewide sponsor.