[Excerpt] In recent years, changes in the global marketplace have significantly altered the character of the nation’s workforce. Trends such as downsizing, increased use of contingent, contract and temporary employees, and new ways of delivering goods and services have dramatically transformed the way we work.
Also, the number of small businesses and their impact on the nation’s economy is on the rise. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), there were nearly 23 million small businesses in the U.S. in 2002, representing 99.7 percent of the nation’s total number of employers. Collectively these businesses employ half of the private sector workforce, pay 44.3 percent of the total U.S. private payroll and generate 60 to 80 percent of new jobs annually.
These shifts and the rapid advances in technology that accompanied them have made entrepreneurship an increasingly popular and practical option for many people, including people with disabilities. Today more than ever, small business ownership and other self-employment options have the power to lower the traditionally high unemployment rate among people with disabilities and help them achieve economic independence.