October 24, 2013

Cornell Study: Workers With Disabilities Earn Less

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Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations recently published a study that showed that workers with disabilities are paid about 10 percent less than their coworkers, according to USA Today. This study also found that workers with disabilities also earn about eight percent less in total compensation — which includes wages, health insurance and vacation time.

According to USA Today, the research only focused on full-time male workers, eliminating possible other variables such as gender pay disparities. Researchers say this was done because they wanted to isolate a similar group of individuals.

According to Prof. Kevin Hallock, human resources, director of the Institute of Compensation Studies, ILR’s research also found that people with disabilities are more likely to take lower paying jobs in favor of better benefit packages.

“So you might imagine someone taking a job for $40,000 with health insurance or a job for $60,000 without health insurance,” Hallock said at a presentation on employment for people with disabilities Wednesday.

The study also found that the top fields for people with disabilities were in manual labor jobs — such as transportation, production and administrative jobs. There were many fewer people with disabilities in “skilled” jobs, like management, business and finance, according to USA Today.

According to Linda Barrington, executive director of the Institute for Compensation Studies, employers should look at their own employees to ensure equal pay.

“Employers need to be looking at wage gaps in their own workforce,” Barrington said. “A lot of companies do that for gender, they do that for race, ethnicity. People with disabilities — and (the) pay gap for people with disabilities need to be included in every company’s checklist as they go through and say ‘do we have fair pay practices.’”

Other solutions, according to the study, include raising awareness, improving management training and expanding the services offered to people with disabilities.

In addition to inequal pay, according to USA Today, the joblessness rate among people with disabilities is much higher than for people without, at 13 percent as compared to 7 percent last month. Also, only 21 percent of people with disabilities are employed or actively looking for a job, USA Today reported.