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

Jennifer D. Brooks

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Having a disability is related to lower employment rates for all racial/ethnic groups. The figure below illustrates a clear race/ethnicity and disability employment hierarchy for U.S. born adults ages 21 to 65. In 2017, 79% of whites without disabilities were employed, placing them on the top rung of the employment ladder. Hispanics without disabilities fell in the middle with an employment rate of 76%, followed by African Americans without disabilities at 69%. 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. Over a third of whites (36%) and 34% of Hispanics with disabilities are employed. Less than one-quarter of African Americans with disabilities (23%) are employed, making African Americans with disabilities the most disadvantaged group.

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

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