For this week’s edition of The Numbers Racket, we’re taking a closer look at people with disabilities in Pennsylvania. Our dive comes courtesy of The Pennsylvania Data Center at Penn State University’s Harrisburg campus. The data comes the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013-2017 American Community Survey Five-Year Estimates.
The data reveal some sharp inequities in education and income — with Pennsylvanians with disabilities tending to earn less and at a lower level of educational accomplishment. There are also divisions along gender, age, and racial lines that bear noting, and that should serve as a guide for policy-makers as they work to formulate solutions and provide services.
First, some top-line numbers:
1.73 million: The total number of Pennsylvanians who had reported having at least one disability between 2013 and 2017.
13.7 percent: The percentage of Pennsylvanians with disabilities in the state’s total population, the 16th largest complement in the nation (tied with Michigan).
12.6 percent: The percentage of Americans who have at least one disability.
The age and gender gap:
47.7 percent: The percentage of those aged 75 and older who reported having disabilities. “Together, those over 65 years account for 16.7 percent of the civilian, non-institutionalized population, but 41.6 percent of those with disabilities,” Penn State researchers noted.
14 percent: The percentage of Pennsylvania women who had at least disability.
13.5 percent: The percentage of Pennsylvania men who had at least one disability.
“Females were slightly more represented in the population of persons with a disability (52.4 percent) than in the civilian, non-institutionalized population of Pennsylvania (51.3 percent),” Penn State researchers concluded.
Divisions along racial and ethnic lines:
“The American Indian and Alaska Native population had the highest percent of persons with disabilities (23.1 percent), though this estimate was inflated due to low sample sizes,” Penn State researchers further noted. “Black or African Americans, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders, and individuals of some other race alone all had disability rates higher than the civilian, non-institutionalized (13.7 percent). Asian residents had the lowest percent of persons with disabilities (6.5 percent) at less than half of the general population and other racial groups.”
Types of disability:
27 percent: The percentage of disabled Pennsylvanians who have ambulatory disabilities — or those affecting their movement.
20.7 percent: The percentage of disabled Pennsylvanians who have a cognitive disability.
“Approximately 7.4 percent of Pennsylvania’s population from 2013 to 2017 had ambulatory-based disabilities, while 6.2 percent had independent-living-based disabilities, or those affecting the ability of the person to complete errands alone, and 5.7 percent had cognitive-based disabilities, disabilities that make concentrating, remembering, or making decisions more difficult,” researchers found.
“Just under half (47.1 percent) of the population with disabilities had two or more types of disabilities. The population under 18 years of age with disabilities had the lowest percentage of persons with two or more types of disabilities (25.6 percent). Of the population age 18 to 64 years with disabilities, 45.8 percent had two or more types of disabilities while a slight majority (52.8 percent) of persons age 65 years and over with disabilities had two or more types of disabilities,” researchers concluded.
The income and wage gap:
20.3 percent: The percentage of Pennsylvanians with disabilities who have less than a high school diploma or its equivalent.
7.6 percent: The percentage of non-disabled Pennsylvanians who have less than a high school education.
14.2 percent: The percentage of Pennsylvanians with disabilities who have obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher.
34 percent: The percentage of non-disabled Pennsylvanians who have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree.
$34,607: Median earnings for non-disabled Pennsylvanians.
$21,696: Median earnings for those with a disability.
20.6 percent: Percentage of Pennsylvanians with a disability who had incomes below the poverty level.
10.1 percent: Percentage of non-disabled Pennsylvanians who had incomes below the poverty threshold.