Employment for individuals with disabilities is an important economic development issue. According to the Council of State Governments and National Conference of State Legislatures:

  • An estimated 1 in 5 Americans live with a disability
  • 28% of non-institutionalized people with disabilities age 18-64 fall below the poverty line
  • 20% of people with disabilities participate in the workforce compared to 69% without disabilities
  • The percentage of the US population with a disability is expected to double in the next 20 years

In the United States in 2020, only 17.9% of people with disabilities were employed, compared to 61.8% of people without disabilities. The disparity is even worse when examined by race.

Smart Incentives is undertaking an initiative to examine state incentives for hiring people with disabilities. Research suggests that federal and state tax credits can be an effective policy for getting individuals into jobs. However, data also show that these credits are small, under-utilized, and leave many potential beneficiaries un-served. We believe redesigning hiring incentives and raising awareness will help them achieve their intended policy objective.

We have also realized that there are significant racial disparities across employment patterns for individuals with disabilities. Specific policy initiatives to address these disparities are also much-needed. Smart Incentives will be using the Clear Impact scorecard and its results based accountability framework to structure our approach to this challenge within the context of our incentive work. We are pleased to share our draft scorecard and Turn the Curve Action plan with you. Please click here to learn more.

If you are interested in discussing this topic with us, please contact Ellen Harpel at info@smartincentives.org, subject line Hiring Incentives. Thank you!

** Smart Incentives would like to thank Regan Price for her research and support on this initiative.