People with Disabilities Are Least Likely to Find a Job In This State

Detectable or not, the rate of people with disabilities in the US is 12.8% — more than one in every 10 individuals. Nearly 5.4 million people with disabilities were working in 2016, but the unemployment rate for this group continues to trend upward. This makes finding employment for people with disabilities considerably harder. More companies commit to offering workplace accommodations and equal employment opportunities every day, but we still have a long way to go to become a truly inclusive workforce.

Both the type and severity of a disability can limit individual employment opportunities, that we know. Despite good intentions, new data from Disability Compendium’s 2017 Disability Statistics Annual Report shows employment, poverty, earnings, and health behaviors vary drastically by state. For instance, individuals with impairments in South Dakota are twice as likely to be working as those in other states.

Landing a job is already hard enough. Living with a disability makes it even harder. Here are 15 states where employment for people with disabilities is a rare find.

15. Georgia

Golden Isles, Georgia

Roughly one-third of people with disabilities in Georgia have a job. | SSI-DUKE/iStock/Getty Images

  • Employment rate for people with disabilities (PWD): 33.9%
  • Earnings gap: $7,530

Employment for people with disabilities in Georgia is among the lowest in the country. Just under 34% of them are employed, compared to more than three-quarters of the non-disabled population. Employment in Georgia is highest among those with hearing and vision impairments and lowest for those with independent living and self-care disabilities.

Next: Should you make a run for the Georgia border?

14. South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Workers with disabilities in South Carolina earn about $8,600 less than those without disabilities. | Sean Pavone/iStock/Getty Images

  • Employment rate for PWD: 33.4%
  • Earnings gap: $8,672

Choosing to job hunt just over the Georgia border into South Carolina won’t help employment odds for PWD. They, too, have a less-than-stellar disability employment rate and an employment gap of 41.2% overall. People without disabilities earn an annual median of $30,305, which is roughly $8,600 more than workers with disabilities.

Next: A measly job outlook up north

13. Michigan

Lansing, Michigan city

In Michigan, people with disabilities earn less than $20,000 a year on average. | Henryk Sadura/iStock/Getty Images

  • Employment rate for PWD: 33.3%
  • Earnings gap: $11,936

Money is tight for people with disabilities in Michigan. This northern state is of six with disability earnings less than $20,000 annually. Job seekers will have a better shot at employment across the pond in Wisconsin, whose employment rate tops 41.8% and income potential is slightly higher.

Next: One of two New England states making an appearance on this list

12. Maine

lubec, maine

Salaries for people with disabilities in Maine are low. | Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

  • Employment rate for PWD: 33.2%
  • Earnings gap: $12,149

New England’s track record of above-average disability employment is quite impressive — except for Maine. The Pine Tree state offers an unfortunate employment rate of just 33.2%. Also, those with physical and mental impairments make considerably less than their able-bodied counterparts. A median of $12,149 less, to be exact.

Next: A state with a dismal employment outlook overall

11. New York

Statue of Liberty and New York

New York has the biggest earnings gap between those with and without disabilities. | MDBrockmann/iStock/Getty Images

  • Employment rate for PWD: 33.1%
  • Earnings gap: $13,953

The earnings gap between those with and without disabilities is highest in New York. Finding work with any type of impairment will be tough in this state, as only 33.1% of PWD claimed to be working in this report. To be fair, New York’s overall employment rate, isn’t exactly something to write home about, but living here makes job hunting and earning money worlds harder for people with disabilities.

Next: Don’t hunt for a job in this popular state

10. Florida

Miami, Florida

Only about one-third of disabled population in Florida was employed. | Aphotostory/iStock/Getty Images

  • Employment rate for PWD: 32.2%
  • Earnings gap: $8,967

Retirees, snowbirds, and beach lovers: They all flock to Florida. But annual disability statistics suggest that those with mental or physical impairments should look for work elsewhere. Only 32.2% of the disabled population was employed, and when considering annual income, they made considerably less than the rest of the working class.

Next: Pluses and minuses in this state

9. New Mexico

New Mexico Landscape

The earnings gap for people with disabilities isn’t huge in New Mexico. | muha04/iStock/Getty Images

  • Employment rate for PWD: 31.9%
  • Earnings gap: $7,492

There’s good news for residents of New Mexico. Though they have one of the highest concentrations of people with disabilities, the state boasts the lowest poverty gap among the two populations, just 1.5%. The earnings gap is also relatively reasonable. Still, those who have a job should count themselves as one of the lucky few able to find employment in New Mexico.

Next: Alarming statistics in the South

8. Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas

Less than one-third of disabled people in Arkansas are working. | Sean Pavone/Getty Images

  • Employment rate for PWD: 31.7%
  • Earnings gap: $7,807

The 47.2% poverty gap in Arkansas is alarmingly high, second to only New Hampshire. Nearly 75% of Arkansas residents can find employment — except for those with physical and mental impairments. Data shows only 31.7% of this population is working. Moving slightly west to either Oklahoma or Kansas where employment rates are higher may increase their odds.

Next: Losing in Louisiana

7. Louisiana

St-Johns Cathedral - Lafayette, Louisiana

Only 12% of people with self-care and independent living disabilities are able to find work in Lousiana. | artiste9999/iStock / Getty Images Plus

  • Employment rate for PWD: 31.3%
  • Earnings gap: $9,250

Employment for people with disabilities is an uphill battle for much of the South, and Louisiana is no exception. Not only is the likelihood of employment among the lowest in the country, the gap in income potential is on the high end of the spectrum for the region as well. Just over 12% of people with self-care and independent living disabilities are able to find work in the Bayou – which equals some of the worst ratings in the U.S. per Disability Compendium data.

Next: Record-breaking statistics in this state

6. Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

Tennessee has the highest disability employment gap in the country. | SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images

  • Employment rate for PWD: 31.2%
  • Earnings gap: $8,422

Though thirty-four states host a disability employment gap of more than 40 percentage points, Tennessee’s soars highest at 44.9%. Only 31.2% of people with impairments are employed and those who are earn considerably less than other people in the workforce.

Next: A sliver of good news

5. Kentucky

Louisville, KY

Non-disabled workers in Kentucky earn much more than those who have a disability. | toddtaulman/iStock/Getty Images

  • Employment rate for PWD: 30.5%
  • Earnings gap: $10,697

The neighboring state of Kentucky doesn’t fare much better when it comes to disability employment options. Data shows that able-bodied employees enjoy an income that’s well over $10,000 higher than workers who have a disability. On a good note, the employment gap among the two populations is shrinking. The difference between those with and without a disability shrunk by 7.4% year-over-year.

Next: A tiny state with big problems

4. Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island

Rhode Islanders with disabilities may find it difficult to find work. | Sean Pavone/iStock/Getty Images

  • Employment rate for PWD: 30%
  • Earnings gap: $12,851

People with disabilities will certainly struggle during the job hunt in Rhode Island as employment numbers are definitely not on their side. For one, there are more PWD living in the community than what’s considered average, nationally. This skyrockets the state’s employment gap to 48.6%, the highest in the country. Unfortunately, the earnings gap among workers reaches debilitating rates as well.

Next: A dismal job outlook

3. Mississippi

Mississippi State Capitol

Fewer than 30% of people with disabilities in Mississippi are employed. | SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images

  • Employment rate for PWD: 29.4%
  • Earnings gap: $7,382

Mississippi is one of three states where the likelihood of disability employment falls below 30%. Impairments are more prevalent in this state, but it seems like companies are making an effort to compensate employees of all types fairly. The earnings gap is low in comparison to other states on this list.

Next: There’s nothing positive to say about this next state’s employment statistics

2. Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Employment statistics for people with disabilties in Alabama are dismal. | SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images

  • Employment rate for PWD: 27.5%
  • Earnings gap: $9,264

In keeping with our southerly trend, we head to Alabama. It takes the runner up spot for the worst state to find a job if you have a disability. The odds of earning a living are disappointingly low. Just over one in four people have managed to find employment here.

Next: The state where finding employment with a disability will be hardest.

1. West Virginia

scenery in West Virginia

West Virginians with disabilities may have trouble finding a job.  | iStock/Getty Images

  • Employment rate for PWD: 27.4%
  • Earnings gap: $12,486

People with disabilities are least likely to find a job in West Virginia — at least that’s what Disability Compendium data suggests. It has the lowest working rate of all states at just 27.4%. The uncomfortably high earnings gap among working populations only makes matters worse. But it seems finding work in West Virginia is tough all around, as it also holds the lowest percentage of able-bodied employees (70.8%) in the country.

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