As the number of Americans living in poverty soars, people with disabilities are faring among the worst, according to U.S. Census Bureau data figures. Nearly 28 percent of those with disabilities ages 18 to 64 were in poverty in 2010; the poverty rate for people without disabilities was 12.5 percent. (A single person was considered to be living in poverty in 2010 if they earned less than $11,139.) Even among those who were not in poverty, the Census Bureau data also shows disparities based on disability status. Median earnings for men with disabilities were about $41,500, compared to roughly $48,000 for those without a disability. Women with disabilities had a median income of just under $32,000, while their typically developing peer without a disability earned more than $37,000.
In 2011, 17.8 percent of persons with a disability were employed, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In contrast, the employment-population ratio for persons without a disability was 63.6 percent. Workers with a disability were more likely than those with no disability to work part time. Among workers with a disability, 33 percent usually worked part time in 2011, compared with 19 percent of workers without a disability. The unemployment rate of persons with a disability was 15.0 percent in 2011, higher than the rate for those with no disability, at 8.7 percent.
Persons with a disability who had completed higher levels of education were more likely to be employed in 2011 than those with less education. However, at all levels of education, persons with a disability were much less likely to be employed than were their counterparts with no disability.
The key to reducing poverty among the general population, including people with disabilities, is employment. So where do you start? A great resource for people with disabilities and employers is:
U.S. Dept of Labor/Office of Disability Employment Policy