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Disabled Workers Less Likely to Find Work

Disabled Workers Less Likely to Find Work Credit: Professional worker in wheelchair image via Shutterstock

Finding work is significantly harder for employees with disabilities compared with those who aren't disabled, new research shows.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey revealed that individuals without disabilities are about three times more likely to be employed than those with disabilities. In total, 9.4 million disabled employees account for 6 percent of the U.S. civilian labor force.

In addition to having trouble finding a job , those who eventually do find work are paid far less than their healthy peers. The study shows that more than half of workers with disabilities earned less than $25,000 annually, compared with just 38 percent of workers with no disabilities. Overall, employees with disabilities earn about 75 percent of what workers without disabilities make.

"Several factors may account for this earnings gap, such as differences in age, work experience, number of hours worked or other factors," said Jennifer Cheeseman Day, the assistant chief for employment characteristics in the Census Bureau's Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division. "For example, 46 percent of workers with a disability worked full-time, year-round compared with 62 percent of workers with no disability."

The research found that among specific occupations, janitors and building cleaners had the highest number of employees, 315,000, with a disability. Other jobs that had high rates of employees with disabilities include drivers/sales workers, truck drivers, cashiers, retail salespeople, dishwashers and personal care aides.

"Reliable, accurate data on disability employment is an essential tool for furthering education, research and policy initiatives that improve employment opportunities and outcomes for people with disabilities," said acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris.

The American Community Survey provides a wide range of statistics about people and housing for every community across the nation. It is designed to give individuals, businesses and local governments the opportunity to study employment and labor force diversity by disability status within their communities.

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Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.