Archived: Just How Underpaid Are People With Disabilities

According to an analysis of U.S. Census data by the American Institutes for Research, people with disabilities earn 37 percent less than the rest of the working population, even when they have similar levels of education.


AIR’s findings are based on the 2011 American Community Survey, an annual, condensed survey the Census Bureau conducts to supplement the every-10-years Census.

In a report titled “An Uneven Playing Field: The Lack of Equal Pay for People With Disabilities,” AIR notes that people with disabilities earned only 63 cents for every dollar paid to people without disabilities.

To put that in perspective, for people doing the same jobs:

People Without Disabilities EarnWhile People With Disabilities Earn
$20,000/year$12,600/year
$30,000/year$18,900/year
$40,000/year$25,200/year
$50,000/year$31,500/year
$60,000/year$37,800/year
$75,000/year$47,250/year
$100,000/year$63,000/year

Despite the fact that people with disabilities surpass or keep pace with people without disabilities in educational attainment through an associate’s degree, people with disabilities earn less across the spectrum.

Education LevelAverage Salary Deficit

For People With Disabilities

High School Diploma$6,505
Some College$4,615
Associate’s Degree$7,199
Bachelor’s Degree$12,719
Master’s Degree$20,871

And to make things even harder for people with disabilities, even finding these non-equal paying jobs is a challenge. The overall employment rate for people with disabilities during the study period was just 27 percent, compared with 65 percent for those without disabilities.

If people with disabilities were paid comparable salaries to their counterparts without disabilities, the U.S. economy would have received an additional $141 billion in 2011 aloneroughly 1 percent of our country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

In 2011, comparable salaries would have brought in an additional $25 billion in federal tax dollars, as well as $6.5 billion in state taxes.

DiversityInc’s Top 10 Companies for People With Disabilities are:

1. EY

2. Procter & Gamble

3. Boehringer Ingelheim

4. IBM

5. General Motors

6. Wyndham Worldwide

7. Anthem

8. The Hartford Financial Services Group

9. BASF

10. AT&T

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