Spatial Disparity in Employment for Americans with Disabilities: Implications for Inclusive Economic Development.

Authors: Lillie Greiman*, , Andrew Myers, The University of Montana, Bryce Ward, The University of Montana, Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Catherine Ipsen, The University of Montana, Craig Ravesloot, The University of Montana
Topics: Disabilities, Economic Geography, United States
Keywords: Disability, Spatial Analysis, Inclusive growth, Employment, Economic Development
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Bayside B, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Efforts to promote inclusive growth often focus on creating ‘more and better jobs’ for a broad range of groups. In the United States, people with disabilities are an often-overlooked group in conversations about economic development. However, data from the American Community Survey (2011-2015) reveals a significant disparity between employment rates for people with disability and those who are not. Nationally, the employment rate for those without disability is 75% while the employment rate for those with disability is 34%, a 41-point difference. Examining this data at the county level reveals that this disparity is not spatially consistent across the United States. A test of local spatial autocorrelation (Anselin’s Local Moran’s I) of employment rates for people with disabilities confirms that there is significant spatial clustering across the United States. High rates of employment cluster across the Great Plains, the Mountain West and Washington D.C., while low rates cluster in Northern Michigan, Central Appalachia, and throughout the South. Spatial auto correlation persists after controlling for employment rates for the population without disability, education, health status, income and basic demographics. This disparity and variation suggests that the future development and conceptualization of “inclusive economies” should include people with disabilities, prompting some key questions. What local/regional characteristics contribute to this disparity? How do economic, policy or service system differences contribute to employment outcomes for people with disabilities? How can these differences inform our understanding of inclusive economic development and could employment for people with disabilities serve as an indicator of inclusive growth?

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