All this month, WYSO is bringing you stories of Ohioans living with disabilities. It’s a series we’re calling Just Ask: Talking About Disability. In an effort to better understand the issue of disabilities in Ohio, we collaborated with researchers from the National Center for Family and Demographic Research at Bowling Green State University, who analyzed statistics from the 2015 five-year American Community Survey. We also collected data from other sources, including the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics and the 2016 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium.
More than 14 percent of Ohioans live with a disability. Census numbers show many in this population continue to face major obstacles in accessing education and jobs. To learn more about some of the causes of employment disparities for people with disabilities, WYSO producer Jess Mador spoke with disabilities expert Susan Willis, from the Columbus-based advocacy organization AXIS center.
Here is a sampling of what we found.
Who Has A Disability In Ohio?
Data from the 2015 American Community Survey show more older people than younger people have a disability in Ohio. This reflects national trends. Aging has been documented as a primary risk factor for "disabling diseases and conditions," according to research from the National Institute on Aging. The same report finds this risk rises significantly after age 65.
The Americans With Disabilities Act:
The Americans with Disabilities Act took effect in 1990, building upon previous legislation banning discrimination in programs that receive federal funding, to bar discrimination in the public and private sectors. Among the protections promised by the ADA was a ban on employment discrimination against people with disabilities. But, despite progress in many areas, advocates say finding and keeping a well-paying job remains a challenge for many people with disabilities.
What Is The Unemployment Rate For People With Disabilities?
Nationwide, the jobless rate for people with disabilities is more than double that of people without disabilities. And Ohio's unemployment rate for people with disabilities is even higher than the national rate. Disability advocates say many workplaces are not set up to accommodate employees with disabilities, and many employers make unfair assumptions about a potential employee's skills when that job candidate has a disability. Many people with disabilities work less than full-time. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 34 percent of employed people with a disability worked part-time in 2016. This is nearly double the rate for people without a disability. People with disabilities are also more likely to be self-employed.
What Is The Education Rate For People With Disabilities?
Numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also show high rates of unemployment persist among people with disabilities regardless of educational attainment. According to data analyzed by Bowling Green State University's National Center for Family and Demographic Research, the majority of younger people with disabilities in Ohio have at least a high school degree. The numbers show 77 percent of Ohioans between the ages of 18 and 34 with a disability went to high school in 2015. Nearly a quarter did not complete high school.
The "Poverty Gap" For People With Disabilities:
People with disabilities suffer dramatically higher poverty rates across the country than people without disabilities. For non-institutionalized people ages 18 to 64 in 2015, the U.S. poverty rate for people with disabilities was more than 27 percent, compared to more than 12 percent for people without disabilities. Data from the 2016 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium also show people with disabilities' median earnings were $21,572 -- $10,300 less than the median earnings of $31,872 for people without disabilities.
- See all of the data about disabilities in Ohio, compiled by The National Center for Family and Demographic Research at Bowling Green State University, here.
- See all of the data from the 2016 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, here.
- Learn more about Ohio's services for people with disabilities at the Governor's Council on People with Disabilities, here.
The Just Ask: Talking About Disability series grew out of a training WYSO conducted this spring with four Miami Valley disability advocacy groups. For six weeks, producers April Laissle and Anna Lurie collaborated with people with disabilities to create radio stories. Each story in our series focuses on topics participants said were most important to them. The series was produced by WYSO Morning Edition Host/Reporter April Laissle and Community Voices Producer Anna Lurie, with additional stories from WYSO Managing Editor Jess Mador and All Things Considered Host/Reporter Jerry Kenney. The series was edited for broadcast by Mador and WYSO General Manager Neenah Ellis, and for the web by Webmaster Juliet Fromholt and Mador. Just Ask: Talking About Disability series participants included: Todd Corthell, Lateef Brown, Michaela Feeser, Darrell Dean, Sue Reese, Heather Reese, Robert Sabwami, Susan Koller and Tom Webb.