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U.S. Census: High Unemployment, Low Wages Plague Disability Community

WASHINGTON, DC (March 19, 2013) -- Americans with disabilities experience higher unemployment rates than the general population and those who are employed tend to hold low-paying jobs, work part-time and earn less than their counterparts, according to a new study released by the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS).

Based on a new Disability Employment Tabulation, the ACS data show that between 2008 and 2010, individuals without disabilities were about three times more likely to be employed than Americans with disabilities.

Key findings included:

  • Individuals with disabilities accounted for 9.4 million, or 6.0 percent, of the nation's civilian workforce
  • The three most common occupations for men with disabilities were drivers/sales workers and truck drivers (246,000), janitors and building cleaners (217,000); and laborers and freight, stock, and material movers (171,000). For women, they were cashiers (195,000); secretaries and administrative assistants (189,000); and nursing, psychiatric and home health aides (172,000)
  • More than half of all workers with a disability were concentrated in four occupation groups: service workers (18.2%); administrative support (15.1%), sales (10.4%) and management, business and finance (8.9%)
  • Among occupations with 100,000 or more workers, dishwashers had the highest disability rate at 14.3 percent, followed by garbage and recycling collectors (12.7%), personal care aides (11.9%), and janitors and building cleaners (11.8%)
  • More than half of workers with disabilities (52%) earned less than $25,000, compared with just 38 percent of workers with no disabilities; this translates into a 75 percent earnings gap between individuals with disabilities versus workers without disabilities
  • 46 percent of workers with a disability worked full time, compared to 62 percent of workers without disabilities