Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ready, Willing, and Able: Oregonians With Disabilities

Full article by Erik Knoder available at

Nearly 20 million U.S. residents ages 18 through 64 identified themselves as disabled in 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.  This number represents 10 percent of the U.S. population in those age groups. About 284,000 of those were Oregonians.

Around 79 percent of the U.S. population ages 21 through 64 with no disability had jobs in 2012. Only about 41 percent of those with any disability and 28 percent with a severe disability were employed.

A 2010 report, Americans With Disabilities, showed that the severity of a disability affected earnings and employment. Employed people ages 21 through 64 without a disability had median monthly earnings of $2,724. For people with a severe disability, median earnings dropped to $1,577.

Why did workers with disabilities earn less? Most (about 73%) of these workers reported that they were limited in the kind or amount of work they could perform. About 47 percent reported that they had difficulty remaining employed.

Although the employment outlook for people with disabilities can be discouraging, there seem to be advantages for businesses that hired disabled workers. Lower turnover may be one. This is consistent with findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that show employed people with a disability have greater job satisfaction.

Several Oregon businesses offer specialized training and job coaching services to people with disabilities. Besides helping disabled workers find and keep jobs, these services can reduce company costs associated with new hires.

For more information on employees with disabilities and for information highlighting the advantages of hiring employees with disabilities, read Erik Knoder's full article at

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