Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 199–210 | Cite as

What Types of Jobs Do People with Disabilities Want?

  • Mohammad AliEmail author
  • Lisa Schur
  • Peter Blanck


Introduction Do non-employed people with disabilities want to work, and if so, what types of jobs do they want? Researchers seeking to explain the low employment rate among people with disabilities have focused primarily on skill gaps, employment disincentives from disability income, accommodation mandates, and (to a lesser extent) employer attitudes and unwelcoming corporate cultures. There has been little attention paid to the attitudes of non-employed people with disabilities. Methods This paper uses the 2006 General Social Survey, a representative national survey of US adults that has disability information and a special supplement on worker preferences, to examine the above question. Results We find that, relative to their non-disabled counterparts, non-employed people with disabilities are (a) as likely to want a job but less likely to be actively searching, (b) as likely to have prior job experience, and (c) similar in their views of the importance of income, job security, and other valued job characteristics. The results, which vary little by type of impairment, indicate that the low employment rate of people with disabilities is not due to their reluctance to work or different job preferences. Conclusion Combined with evidence that a large share of new jobs can be performed by people with disabilities, the findings point toward the value of dismantling barriers to employment facing many people with disabilities.


Disability Job preference Employment barriers 



We thank Douglas Kruse for useful comments and advice. Funding for the disability module for the 2006 General Social Survey was provided by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, Grant No. H133B980042-99, and the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations. In addition, the program of research described herein is supported in part by grants to Dr. Blanck and BBI from: (a) The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), U.S. Department of Education, for (i) “The Asset Accumulation and Economic Self-Sufficiency Project,” Grant No. H133A090014; (ii) “Demand Side Employment Placement Models,” Grant No. H133A060033; (iii) “Southeast Disability & Business Technical Assistance Center,” Grant No. H133A060094; and (iv) “Center on Effective Delivery of Rehabilitation Technology by Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies,” Grant No. H133A090004; (b) The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) for “Technical Assistance and Continuing Education (TACE) Center Region IV (Southeast TACE),” Grant No. H264A080021, and (c) the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, for “New York’s Comprehensive Medicaid Infrastructure Grant (MIG),” Grant #1QACMS030318.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Management & Labor RelationsRutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA
  2. 2.School of Management & Labor RelationsRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  3. 3.Burton Blatt InstituteSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

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