Exhibit 2: Hourly Pay of Youth with Disabilities
|Percentage of Youth with a Regular Job|
|Less than $4.50||16|
|$4.50 to $5.49||36|
|$5.50 to $6.49||23|
|$6.50 or more||25|
Source: NLTS2 Wave 1 parent interviews
Employment rates vary considerably across disability categories. Youth with learning disabilities, emotional disturbances, other health impairments, or speech impairments are the most likely to be employed in a 1-year period (50% to 60%), with their rates of employment equaling or exceeding that of the general population of youth (50%) (see footnote 5). In contrast, 15% of youth with autism, approximately one-fourth of youth with multiple disabilities, deaf-blindness, or orthopedic impairments, and about one-third of youth with mental retardation or visual impairments are employed in a 1-year period. Increases in overall employment rates from 1987 to 2001 range from 4 to 17 percentage points across disability groups, including significant increases for youth with learning disabilities or with speech, orthopedic, or other health impairments (10 to 17 points).
Age. The relationship of age to employment follows a similar pattern for youth with disabilities and youth in the general population, with employment rates, hours worked, and hourly pay being higher and the types of jobs held being different for older youth. Among 13- and 14-year-olds, 42% work during a 1-year period. The employment rate is 67% among 17-year-olds, a 25 percentage point difference. This pattern is found for youth who work both in the summer and during the school year rather than one or the other. Higher employment rates are associated with older youth (Exhibit 3), a pattern found in every disability category. However, youth with learning disabilities experience the greatest overall difference and youth with traumatic brain injuries, multiple disabilities, or deaf-blindness the least.
Exhibit 3: Employment Experiences of Youth with Disabilities, By Age
|Percentage of Youth By Age (years)|
|Employed any time in a 1-year period||42%||52%||60%||67%|
|Earned minimum wage or more||37%||39%||54%||65%|
|Worked more than 16 hours a week in a school-year job||6%||9%||28%||29%|
|Worked more than 16 hours a week in a summer job||22%||34%||54%||66%|
|Source: NLTS2 Wave 1 parent interviews|
The types of jobs youth hold change as youth grow older, most noticeably between the ages of 15 and 16. Younger teens are more likely to hold jobs in maintenance and personal care, often informal jobs such as gardening and baby-sitting. Older youth are more likely than younger teens to have food service jobs; for example, 11% of 15-year-olds hold food service jobs, compared with 22% of 16-year-olds. Retail and clerical jobs also are more typical for older youth.
The number of hours worked per week in summer jobs is higher with each year of age. Only about one-fourth of 13- and 14-year-olds work more than 16 hours per week; however, more than 66% of 17-year-olds do.
Although the percentage of youth who work during the school year is smaller than those who work in the summer at all ages, the hours worked at school-year jobs is higher for older youth. Among 13- and 14-year-olds, few (6%) work more than 16 hours, compared with 29% of 17-year-olds.
Younger teens are more likely to receive lower wages than older youth. Youth 13 to 15 years old are more likely to be paid less than $5.50 per hour, whereas 16-year-olds are more likely to be paid $5.50 or more.
Gender. In the general population, boys and girls have similar employment rates (Rothstein & Herz, 2000). Employment rates of youth with disabilities follow similar patterns. Compared with 1987, girls’ employment rates have increased, narrowing the gender gap from 12 percentage points in 1987 to five percentage points in 2001.
Maintenance jobs are the most common type of job for boys, accounting for about one-third of their employment. In contrast, personal care jobs are the most common for girls, accounting for almost half of their employment. The wage differences between boys and girls are most clearly seen at the high and low ends of the earning spectrum. Twice as many girls (23%) as boys (11%) earn less than $4.50 per hour, and twice as many boys (31%) as girls (16%) earn $6.50 or more. Boys also are more likely than girls to work more hours.
Household Income. In the general population, youth from families with higher incomes have higher rates of employment and higher wages (Herz & Kosanovich, 2000; Johnson & Lino, 2000). Youth with disabilities from families with higher incomes, like their peers in the general population, have a higher rate of employment and earn higher wages. The employment rate for youth with disabilities from families with incomes of more than $25,000 is approximately 20 percentage points higher than that of youth from lower-income families (60% for middle-income and 64% for higher-income vs. 42% for low-income; Exhibit 4). Gains in rates of employment between 1987 and 2001 are seen only for youth from middle-income families ($25,001 to $50,000).
When working, youth from low-income families are more likely to earn lower wages than youth from high-income families (44% vs. 29% for $4.50 to $5.49 per hour). Additionally, youth from low-income families are less likely to earn higher wages than youth from high-income families (13% vs. 36% for $6.50 or more per hour).
Exhibit 4: Employment and Wage Levels of Youth With Disabilities, By Income and Race/Ethnicity
|Income||Employed during 12-month period||Earned minimum wage or more|
|$25,000 or less||42||42|
|$25,001 to $50,000||60||47|
|More than $50,000||64||57|
|Source: NLTS2 Wave 1 parent interviews|
Race/Ethnicity. Race/ethnicity is associated with the likelihood of employment for both youth in the general population (Gardecki, 2001) and youth with disabilities. Despite significant gains since 1987 for African American and Hispanic youth with disabilities, overall and relative to white youth, employment rates continue to be higher for white youth (62%) than for African American (42%) or Hispanic youth (36%). When employed, African American youth are more likely to earn lower wages than white youth (52% vs. 32% for $4.50 to $5.49 per hour) and less likely to earn higher wages than white youth (13% vs. 36% for $6.50 or more per hour).
Holding a job is an important marker for youth as they begin to take on adult roles and responsibilities. The patterns of regular paid employment for most youth with disabilities (those with learning disabilities; emotional disturbances; or speech, hearing, or other health impairments) have improved from 1987 to 2001 to the extent that they have become similar to those of youth in the general population. Improvements in the rates of school-sponsored work-study jobs for youth in other disability categories (those with mental retardation, emotional disturbances, or multiple disabilities) have given more of these youth opportunities to experience the maturational benefits of employment.
Gardecki, R. M. (2001, August). Racial differences in youth employment. Monthly Labor Review, 51-67.
Herz, D., & Kosanovich, K. (2000). Trends in youth employment: Data from the Current Population Survey. In U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Report on the youth labor force (pp. 30-51). Washington, DC: Author.
Johnson, D. S., & Lino, M. (2000). Teenagers: Employment and contributions to family spending. In U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Report on the youth labor force. Washington, DC: Author.
National Research Council. (1998). Protecting youth at work. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Rothstein, D., & Herz, D. (2000). A detailed look at employment of youths aged 12 to 15. In U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Report on the youth labor force. Washington, DC: Author.
Wagner, M., Cameto, R., & Newman, L. (2003). Youth with disabilities: A changing population. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.
For more information on the subject of this NLTS2 Data Brief, see Wagner, M., Cadwallader, T. W., & Marder, C. (with Cameto, R., Cardoso, D., Garza, N., Levine, P., & Newman, L.). (2003). Life outside the classroom for youth with disabilities. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International, available on the Web site: www.nlts2.org.
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The authors are part of the NLTS2 research team at the Center for Education and Human Services, SRI International.
The NLTS2 Data Brief is produced by the National Center on Secondary Education
and Transition (NCSET), in partnership with the National Longitudinal Transition
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This report was supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, (Cooperative Agreement No. H326J000005). The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, and no official endorsement by the Department should be inferred.
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