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Disability Market Demographics

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Disability Market Demographics

People with disabilities represent an emerging market on par with the size of China*
(Bureau of Labor Statistics)
2.3 million undergrad & grad students reported disabilities in 2004, more than double the 1.1 million reported in 1996*
(U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics 2003-2004 Postsecondary Student Aid Study)
U.S. employers are projected to face a shortage of 12 million skilled workers by 2010 and 20 million by 2020.* Projected annual costs in U.S. = $84 billion.  
(Bureau of Labor Statistics)
1.2 billion people globally report having a disability, and people with disabilities in the U.S. control aggregate annual income of > $1 trillion*
The employment rate for people with disabilities was 38.1% in 2005, roughly half of that for people without disabilities*
(U.S. Census Bureau, Community Survey)
More than 20 million people with disabilities, who are both willing and able to work, are represented in the U.S. workforce*
(U.S. Department of Labor)

New Statistics Released: May 29, 2007
Americans with Disabilities Act: July 26
On this day in 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) [PDF], guaranteeing equal opportunity for people with disabilities in public accommodations, commercial facilities, employment, transportation, state and local government services and telecommunications.

Population Distribution
51.2 million
Number of people who have some level of disability. They represent 18 percent of the population. Of all people with disabilities, 32.5 million, or 12 percent of the total population, had a severe disability.
Percentage of children 6 to 14 who have a disability, about 4 million children.
Percentage of people 80 and older with disabilities, the highest of any age group.
Percentage of females with a disability, compared with 17 percent of males. On the other hand, among children younger than 15, boys were more likely than girls to have a disability (11 percent versus 6 percent).

Using or Needing Assistance
10.7 million
Number of disabled people 6 and older who need personal assistance with one or more activities of daily living (such as taking a bath or shower) or instrumental activities of daily living (such as using the telephone). This group amounts to 4 percent of people in this age category.
2.7 million
Number of people 15 and older who use a wheelchair. Another 9.1 million use an ambulatory aid such as a cane, crutches or walker.

Specific Disabilities
1.8 million
Number of people 15 and older who report being unable to see.
1 million
Number of people 15 and older who report being unable to hear.
2.6 million
Number of people 15 and older who have some difficulty having their speech understood by others. Of this number, 610,000 were unable to have their speech understood at all.
14.3 million
Number of people with limitations in cognitive functioning, or a mental or emotional illness that interferes with their daily activities. This includes those with Alzheimer’s disease and mental retardation. This group comprises 6 percent of the population 15 and older.

On the Job
11.8 million
Number of 16- to 64-year-olds who reported a medical condition that makes it difficult to find a job or remain employed. They comprise 6 percent of the population this age.
Percentage of people 21 to 64 having some type of disability who were employed in the past year. The rate ranged from 82 percent of those with a nonsevere disability to 43 percent with a severe disability. For those without a disability, the rate is 88 percent.
Percentage of people with a nonsevere disability who work full time, year-round. This compares with 53 percent without a disability and 13 percent with a severe disability.

Perceived Health Status
Percentage of people 25 to 64 who have a nonsevere disability and report their health as being “very good” or “excellent.” This compares with 13 percent of those with a severe disability and 73 percent of those without a disability.

Income and Poverty
Median earnings for people with a nonsevere disability. This compares with $25,000 for those with no disability and $12,800 for those with a severe disability.
Percentage of people with a nonsevere disability with household incomes of $80,000 or more. By comparison, 26 percent of people without a disability had household incomes of $80,000 or more, with the same being true of 9 percent of those with a severe one.
The poverty rate for people 25 to 64 with a nonsevere disability. This compares with 26 percent for those with a severe disability and 8 percent of those without a disability.

Living Arrangements
Percentage of people 25 to 64 with a nonsevere disability who live in married-couple families. The corresponding rates are 68 percent for those without disabilities and 50 percent for people with severe disabilities.
Percentage of people with a nonsevere disability who live alone or with nonrelatives. This compares with 28 percent of those with a severe disability and 19 percent without a disability.

The percentage of people 25 to 64 who had a nonsevere disability and were college graduates. This compares with 43 percent with no disability and 22 percent with a severe disability.
2.2 million
The number of undergraduates with a disability, as of the 2003-04 school year. These students represented 11 percent of all undergrads. See Table 275

Plugged In
36% and 29%
Percentages of people 15 to 64 with a severe disability who use a computer and the Internet at home, respectively. The respective figures for those without a disability are 61 percent and 51 percent.

Serving Our Nation
2.6 million
Number of veterans who received compensation for service-connected disabilities as of 2005. Their compensation for 2005 was $24.5 billion. See Table 510 and Table 511

Percent of transit buses that were ADA lift- or ramp-equipped, as of 2004. This represents an increase from 62 percent in 1995. See Table 1094 at <>.
Unless otherwise indicated, all the data are from the Americans with Disabilities: 2002 report  

Historical Data from around the 2004 timeframe

Need more information about consumers with disabilities? The facts speak for themselves:
Of the 54 million of people limited in their activities due to long-term disability...
73% are the heads of households
46% are married
58% own their own homes
77% have no children
48% are principal shoppers
In 1995, people with disabilities spent $81.7 billion on travel. This did not include the significant expenditures of their families, friends, and escorts. (Source: Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality).
The aggregate income of people with disabilities tops $1 trillion. This includes $220 billion in discretionary income. *
Of the 69.6 million families in the United States, 20.3 million families have at least one member with a disability. *
Four out of 10 people with disabilities conduct business and personal activities online, spending an average of 20 hours per week logged on to the Internet. That's more time on average than non-disabled Web surfers spend online.
Among people with disabilities, 48% say that the Internet has significantly improved the quality of their lives. Compare this to only 27% of adults without disabilities.
According to the March 2001 supplement to the Current Population Survey, the mean earnings in 2000 of year-round, full-time workers 16 to 64 with work disabilities was $33,109. (Source: National Organization on Disability -
The most productive contributors to society are the youngest cohort: 18 to 29 year olds. For example, these younger people with disabilities are almost as likely as their non-disabled counterparts to go out to restaurants at least once per week (Compare: 59% of this group, versus 61% of non-disabled young people, eats out regularly.) (Source: National Organization on Disability -
The employment picture for 18-29 year olds is the most promising. Among this cohort, 57% of those with disabilities who are able to work are employed, compared to 72% of their non-disabled counterparts. (Source: National Organization on Disability -
According to a General Accounting Office report, implementing the access provisions of the ADA has increased revenues in the hotel and hospitality industry by 12 percent.
Companies marketing to people with disabilities can reach as many as four in every 10 consumers.
Three in four adults say they would be likely to switch to a brand associated with a "good cause." (Source: 1997 Cone/Roper Cause-Related Marketing Trends Report)

*Source: U.S. Census Bureau via Solutions Marketing Group

The top five cities where people with disabilities live are:

5) Buffalo, New York
4) Newark, New Jersey
3) Miami, Florida
2) Baltimore, Maryland
1) Detroit, Michigan

(Source: Ten Places of 100,000 ore More with Highest Percentage of People with Disabilities in the Civilian Noninstituationalized Population 5 years old and over, 2000)

Other Sources for Disability Statistics

National Organization on Disability (N.O.D.) Stats and Surveys
Open Doors Organization
U.S. Census Bureau
United Nations Statistics Division - Disability Statistics

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