Study: People With Disabilities Are Untapped Labor Force That Could Boost Arizona Economy

Published: Wednesday, November 6, 2019 - 3:36pm
Updated: Wednesday, November 6, 2019 - 6:28pm

A new study has found an untapped labor pool that could strengthen Arizona's economy. It found that by adding more people with disabilities to the workforce, the state’s gross domestic product and tax revenues could get a boost. The Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council commissioned the study.

Erica McFadden, the council’s executive director, said there are many reasons why people with disabilities are not working.

"For some, they don’t want to give up their income, their SSI because they don’t understand the work benefits that are out there," she said. "Some it’s because they’re afraid, they’re afraid they’re going to get bullied, that they can’t hold down a job. But a lot of it is about raising expectations about what workers with disabilities can do."

McFadden said her agency wanted to know what it would mean for the state’s economy if more people with disabilities were employed and paid a competitive wage, which means making at least minimum wage.

"So what we found out was that if only about 2,000 more people got jobs, which in the scheme of things is 1% increase in employment outcomes with people with disabilities if only 2,000, we would have a $280 [million] to an $818 million boom in the economy in the GDP," McFadden said. 

The report noted that people with a disability are more likely to live in poverty than people without a disability.

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