2021 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium
Section 5: Earnings
This section presents statistics on earnings in the United States by disability status. The statistics describe the earnings of full-time, full-year workers with and without disabilities in the past 12 months, as well as the difference (earnings gap) between these two populations. A person is considered a full-time, full-year worker if they worked 35 hours or more per week for 50 to 52 weeks in the past 12 months. Individuals who did not work in the last 12 months or who worked less than full-time, full-year are not included in these statistics. The principal source of these data is the U.S. Census Bureau, specifically the American Community Survey. Statistics for people with disabilities (disability status) are based on having responded ‘yes’ to a series of questions within the American Community Survey (see the glossary for more details). In addition, in the American Community Survey people are asked about their total income for the past 12 months. This information is used to calculate earnings. When presenting earnings data, the median earnings (or middle value) is used rather than mean (average) earnings because income tends to be heavily skewed. Because outlier cases with extremely high incomes do not impact the median the way that they impact the mean, the median is generally the preferred statistic for summarizing income.
Table 5.1: In 2020, for full-time, full-year workers with disabilities ages 18-64 years living in the community, median earnings were $42,504. In contrast, among full-time, full-year workers without disabilities ages 18-64 years and over living in the community, median earnings were $50,223—an earnings gap of $7,719. This earnings gap is smallest (meaning the difference in earnings of people with disabilities and the earnings of people without disabilities is the lowest) in Alaska ($-3,833) and largest (meaning the difference in earnings of people with disabilities and the earnings of people without disabilities is the highest) in Massachusetts ($16,258).