Having a Disability Reduces Chances of Employment for all Racial/Ethnic Groups

Jennifer D. Brooks

Having a disability is related to lower rates of employment for all racial/ethnic groups. The figure below illustrates a clear race/ethnicity and disability employment hierarchy for adults ages 21 to 65. In 2017, 78% of whites without disabilities were employed, placing them on the top rung of the employment ladder. Hispanics without disabilities fall in the middle with an employment rate of 73%, followed by African Americans without disabilities with an employment rate of 68%. Regardless of race, adults with disabilities are far less likely to be employed than those without disabilities. Employment among individuals with disabilities, however, also varies by race-ethnicity. A third of whites and 30% of Hispanics with disabilities are employed. Less than one-quarter of African Americans with disabilities are employed, making African Americans with disabilities the most disadvantaged group.

Figure 1: African Americans with Disabilities have a Lower Employment Rate Compared to other Racial/Ethnic Groups with or without a Disability

About the Author
Jennifer Brooks is a PhD student and STEM fellow in the Department of Sociology at Syracuse University (jdbro100@syr.edu).