The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Unemployment, Poverty Higher for People with Disabilities

by Catherine Komp

Oct. 4, 2006 – A "dramatic" gap in unemployment and poverty separates people with and without disabilities, according to a new report released by Cornell University in collaboration with the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).

Cornell’s second Annual Disability Status Report found that only 38 percent of nearly 21.5 million people with disabilities between the ages of 21-64, or what is determined as "working-age," were employed last year. That figure compares to just over 78 percent of people without disabilities.

"The employment gap between people with and without disabilities is long-standing," said Andrew Houtenville, director of Cornell's Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability Demographics and Statistics, in a press statement.

The report also found that in 2005, people with disabilities made an average of $6,000 less for full-time work than those without disabilities.

Similarly, median household income was $35,000, about $26,500 less than people without disabilities. People with disabilities were two–and-a-half times as likely to live in poverty than those without.

The report examined data from the 2005 American Community Survey (ACS), a new US Census Bureau analysis of demographic information collected on a yearly basis. The Cornell report cautioned against making comparisons to 2004 data due to changes in how the ACS survey is conducted.

Gathering statistics on working-age people is important, said researchers, because "employment is a key factor in the social integration and economic self-sufficiency of working-age people with disabilities."

As previously reported by The NewStandard, some disability-rights advocates say the biggest barriers to raising the income and status of people with disabilities are attitudinal. Linda Richman, deputy executive director of Liberty Resources, a Philadelphia-based advocacy organization, told TNS last March that in her view, many employers mistakenly believe that hiring a person with a disability means that "you’re automatically compromising somehow on the quality or volume of work."

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Catherine Komp is a contributing journalist.

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