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The Pay Gap

It’s pretty much common knowledge that there is a gender pay gap and the rich-poor gap just keeps on increasing. There are the doubters of course, but I personally try to look at the numbers before I make informed opinions.

I was doing a little research for an article that I am writing and found the disabled workers make around 1/3 less than what others make in the same profession, depending on the study you wish to base your number on. This is pretty much equal to the gender gap. This is just a generalization, but it’s the average. There are of course many factors that go into income, like ability, type of disability, occupation, training, and so forth.

Most disabled individuals work in the unskilled labor force. From what I noticed during my job search is that pay for unskilled labor doesn’t even come close to paying a living wage. In today’s economy, $25 per hour is still scraping the bottom of the barrel. And that’s being generous. One thing I assume is that many people still live with family or friends in order to lower monthly bills.

What to do?

Having a family would put this number even deeper. No matter who they are, everyone still has a skill, something they are good at. This is just my opinion of course, but there is a stigmatism with the disabled community. It’s assumed that no matter what the position is, a company can pay them less for equal work. That’s the nature of the unskilled labor pool, disabled or not. Anyone can have a shot at being more than a janitor, or working retail or fast-food.

My belief is that more attention needs to be paid to students earlier in life. Around middle-school to early high-school. Find out what people are good at and train them. The cost of college is a barrier to many and educational programs are not plentiful. They do exist, but more needs to be done to make people flourish. If a child does not get the best grades, college probably isn’t going to be on the table. Access to opportunities can be a barrier. In my case, the university helped quite a bit and accommodated me in some areas.

From personal experience, disability doesn’t pay very much. And it pays even less to people who have never worked, it’s based off income. When receiving Social Security disability benefits, you’re only allowed to earn a certain amount of money before they start deduction pay from your monthly paycheck. So you get screwed even more.

I could go on with this topic forever. It’s been part of my life for almost 20 years. Biases have formed in that time and I try not to let them get in the way.

My Point

My point is, is that everyone has a skill. Disabled or not. Attention needs to be paid to make those skills come out and be trained on them. Technical trades, college education, certificate programs, and so forth. Technical trades and certificate programs are becoming more acceptable in the employment community. Bachelor’s degrees are more like high school diplomas now, as I have found. More attention needs to be paid to marginalized communities and creating educational opportunities for those communities.

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