Disability Employment Statistics: How Is Your State Doing?

Earlier this year a new study was released that highlighted disability statistics around the United States. Are you curious where your home state lands in the disability employment conversation?

The 2015 Disability Statistics Annual Report is a publication of the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability Statistics and Demographics. In the study they compare all things disability-related, such as employment, wages, housing, poverty and more. You can read the whole study here, but for this post we will focus on the disability employment section.

Before we jump into the disability employment statistics, let’s look at disability overall in the United States. Currently about 12.6% of the U.S. population has a disability, or about 40 million people. This number has been on the rise in recent years – in 2010 it was 11.9%.

The Disability Employment Gap

When we jump into the disability employment statistics, comparing numbers becomes a little shocking. For people with disabilities, the overall employment rate in the United States is 34.4%, while employment for people without disabilities is 75.4%. Why are these numbers so dramatically different? There are many reasons for the disparity between the numbers. For many years in our society people with disabilities were not accepted, let alone hired by employers. Now that the conversation is welcome in the workplace, more and more people are getting out into the community, but there is still room to grow as these statistics show. Check out this previous Blogging4Jobs post focused on recruiting people with disabilities in 2016 to learn all about what you and your business can do.

If we dig deeper into these statistics, disability employment becomes even more interesting on a state-level. South Dakota is the number one state for hiring people with disabilities, with 50.1% employed. West Virginia had the lowest rate at 25.6%. Now you may ask, do those numbers correlate with the statistics for people without disabilities? Not at all. The highest state for those without disabilities is Nebraska at 83.9% and the lowest is Mississippi at 70.4%. Get ready for something even more shocking: in 27 out of the 50 states, the employment percentage gap between those with disabilities and those without was higher than 40%. The highest gaps occur in Maine, Kentucky, District of Columbia, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

The Disability Wage Gap

The last statistic we will highlight is wages. In 2014, the median earnings of people with disabilities (of working age) were $21,232. That’s about two-thirds of the median earnings of people without disabilities ($31,324). This disparity of over $10,000 in median earnings between those with and without disabilities continues a trend that has existed since at least 2008.

What is wrong with this picture? People with disabilities are being welcomed into the workplace, but the statistics are still not trending in a positive way. This is an issue we can solve with knowledge. If we educate ourselves and the companies we work for about hiring people with disabilities, these statistics will start to change. There are many benefits for a business that hires people with disabilities including: lower turnover and training costs, gaining a passionate and motivated employee, tax benefits, creating loyal brand fans and more!

If you want to learn more read this previous Blogging4Jobs post. The benefits surpass any negatives but the fear and stigma is still present in our society. Educate yourself and encourage your business to hire people with disabilities!

Posted in

Hannah Weiss

Hannah Weiss, a public relations professional from Minneapolis, Minnesota has worked in the nonprofit sector since 2011. She enjoys collaborating with others and spreading the word about organizations that are making a difference in the community by providing equality for persons with disabilities. Hannah currently manages public relations for Opportunity Services OppServ, a nonprofit that helps disabled adults find employment. Connect with Hannah.


Pin It on Pinterest