Disability and Employment Status
One of the questions on Census 2000 asked respondents about long-lasting conditions such as a physica~ mental. or emotional condition that substantially lim-
Ited important basic activities. It also asked itthey were working at a job or business. The answers allowed the Census Bureau to determ ine how many people with a disability and how many people without a disability were employed atthe time the census VIasconducted. As you can see from the figure set forth below, for the population aged 21 to 64 years (the period during which people are most likely to be employed), less than 50 percent of persons with a disability were employed,
compared with almost 80 percent of persons without a disability who were employed. Is employment among persons with iI disability related primarIly to their disability status. or do other facts-such as prejudice or lack of willingness to make the necessary accommodations that would allow such persons to hold a job-playa Significant part In the high rate of unemployment of persons with a disability? income a person loses because of a disability (Delong, Batavia, and Griss, 1989). Second, generalizations about entire categories of people (such as whites, African Americans, or Latinos/as) tend to be inaccurate because of differences within each group. For example, the sociologist Ronald Angel (1984) found significant differences in the effect of disabilities on Latinos depending.
income a person loses because of a disability (Delong, Batavia, and Griss, 1989). Second, generalizations about entire categories of people (such as whites, African
Americans, or Latinos/as) tend to be inaccurate because of differences within each group. For example, the sociologist Ronald Angel (1984) found significant differences in the effect of disabilities on Latinos depending.
depending on whether they were Mexican American, Puerto Rican, or Cuban American. Angel concluded that although both Mexican American an~ Puerto Rican
men had lower rates of full-time employment and lower hourly wages relative to (non-Latino) whites, Puerto Ricans wert' worse off than Mexican Americans in terms of earnings and number of work hours. Third, there is the problem of determining which factor occurred first. For example, some of the problems for Puerto Ricans with disabilities are tied to their overall position of economic disadvantage (see Chapter 8). Although disability is associated with lower earnings
and higher rates of unemployment for both males and females, a disability has a stronger negative effect on women's labor force participation than it docs on men's. Compared to men, women with disabilities arc overrepresented as clerical and service workers and underrepresented as managers and administrators. Women with disabilities are also much less likely to he covered hy pension and health plans than arc: men (Russo and Jansen, 1988). What does it cost to "mainstream" persons with disabilities? Disability expenditures for 1986 were estimated to be 5169.4 billion for the working-age population, taking into account money spent hy both the
government and the private sector (Alb echt, 1992). However, between 1978 and 1992. Sears. Roebuck found that the average cost of an accommodation for a worker with a disability was only $126, with some accommodations involving little or no cost (such as flexible schedules, back-support belts, rest periods, and changes in employee work stations). Other accommodations cost about $1.000, with the largest single cost being $14.500 each for special Braille computer displays for visually impaired employees (Noble, 1995). Future opportunities for persons with disabilities air closely related to current expenditures that provide greater access to education and jobs.