Disability and Employment Status Report
Suffolk County

ilr-edi-r1.ilr.cornell.edu/nymakesworkpay/

Developing a Path to Employment for New Yorkers with Disabilities

Prepared By: Sarah von Schrader, William Erickson, Lars Vilhuber, Thomas Golden

Disability and Employment Status Report
Suffolk County

Prepared By: Sarah von Schrader, William Erickson, Lars Vilhuber, Thomas Golden 1

Introduction

The mission of the New York Makes Work Pay (NYMWP) project is to involve the whole community in improving employment outcomes and increasing the financial independence of New Yorkers with disabilities. This report for Suffolk County is part of a series of county-level reports, developed as part of NYMWP. The report focuses on the working-age population (18-64 years old, except where noted) presenting relevant and current information on disability and employment, providing our community of stakeholders a better understanding of where we are now, as we continue to work toward improving outcomes for individual with disabilities. Specifically, the report includes: 1) estimates of disability prevalence overall and among specific groups; 2) indications of where disparities exist between people with and without disabilities in employment rate, educational attainment, and financial status; and 3) characteristics of Suffolk County which may influence employment outcomes for people with disabilities.

The report presents estimates primarily based on the American Community Survey (ACS) for the time period of 2008-2010. When this report was written in February, 2012, this was the most recent time period for which detailed data on disability statistics was available. Further information on all data sources is presented with the tables in the Appendix.

Disability Prevalence

The working-age population of Suffolk County is an estimated 923,700, of whom approximately 62,100, or 6.7%, report having one or more disabilities.2

The prevalence of disability in Suffolk County is lower than3 the New York State average, where 8.5% report having a disability, and lower than the national average of 10.0%. Map 1 presents the disability prevalence rate (the percentage of people reporting a disability) in each county in New York State with Suffolk County highlighted. Suffolk County has the 57th highest prevalence of disability among the 60 counties for which estimates are available in New York State.4 [Table 1 in the Appendix contains additional details on disability prevalence by county.]

Map 1. County-level Disability Prevalence Rates for New York State


In Suffolk County, 6.4% of women and 7.0% of men report a disability as compared to 8.5% and 8.6%, respectively, statewide. Disability prevalence often varies across racial and ethnic groups. In Suffolk County, 6.6% of Whites report at least one disability, compared with 10.5% of African American/Blacks. In New York State, 8.3% of Whites report at least one disability, compared with 10.8% of African American/Blacks. [Table 2 in the Appendix contains additional details on disability prevalence by racial/ethnic groups and other demographic characteristics.]

Among working age people in Suffolk County, 3.3% report an ambulatory disability, 2.5% report an cognitive disability, 2.6% report an independent living disability, 1.2% report a self-care disability, 0.9% report a visual disability, and 1.3% report a hearing disability. Approximately, 2.9% of people report two or more of these six types of disability. [Table 3 in the Appendix contains additional details on disability prevalence rate by disability type.]

Another subpopulation of interest is veterans with service-connected disabilities (See Glossary for definition). In Suffolk County, there are 91,700 civilian veterans 18 years and older, of whom 10.5% have a service-connected disability.

Comparing the Status of People With and Without Disabilities on Key Indicators

Employment Rate

In Suffolk County, the employment rate for working-age people with disabilities is 35.1%, compared to 77.4% for people without disabilities, a gap of 42.3%.

Figure 1. Employment Rates in Suffolk County  (Data Table for Figure 1)

The corresponding New York State employment rates are 35.1% and 73.9%, resulting in a gap of 40.3%. Compared with other counties in New York State, Suffolk County has the 29th highest employment rate for people with disabilities out of 60 counties, and the 14th highest employment rate for people without disabilities.5 In Suffolk County, an estimated 3,600 (5.9%) people with disabilities (age 18-64) are not working but are actively looking for work. [Table 4 in the Appendix contains additional details on the employment situation.]

The employment rate varies a great deal by disability type. In Suffolk County, the employment rate is highest for people with a hearing disability (54.2%) and lowest for people with an independent living disability (18.7%). Statewide, the employment rate is highest for people with a hearing disability (50.6%) and lowest for people with an independent living disability (16.7%). [Table 3 in the Appendix contains additional details on employment rate by disability type.]

Employment rates often vary across different groups. In Suffolk County, the employment rate for women with disabilities (33.6%) is similar to3 the rate for men with disabilities (35.3%).

The employment rate for African American/Blacks with disabilities in Suffolk County (25.4%) is less than3 the rate for Whites with disabilities (36.8%). In New York State, the employment rate for African American/Blacks with disabilities (28.4%) is less than3 the rate for Whites with disabilities (35.7%). [Table 5 in the Appendix contains additional details on employment rates.]

It is also of interest to look more closely at characteristics of people who are not working. Figure 2 shows the distribution of work history for people with and without disabilities who are not working. In Suffolk County, 11.1% of people with disabilities who are not working were employed within the last year, compared to 28.4% of people without disabilities. [Table 6 in the Appendix contains additional details on people who are not working.]

Figure 2. Work History of Working-Age People in Suffolk County who are not Working  (Data Table for Figure 2)

Educational Attainment

In Suffolk County, among working-age people with disabilities, 19.1% are not high school graduates, compared to 8.3% of people without disabilities.

Employment and earnings are both related to educational attainment; that is, people with higher educational attainment are more likely to be employed, earn more, and avoid poverty.6 Therefore, it is important to be aware of differences in educational attainment that might affect employment rates. As can be seen in Figure 3, among people with disabilities in Suffolk County, 37.1% have only a high school diploma, compared with 27.6% of people without disabilities. While 16.3% of people with disabilities have a bachelor's degree or higher, 32.4% of people without disabilities have this level of educational attainment. [Table 7 in the Appendix contains additional details on educational attainment.]

Figure 3. Education Attainment in Suffolk County  (Data Table for Figure 3)

Figure 4 presents employment rates by educational attainment in Suffolk County. Generally, as educational attainment increases, the employment rate among working-age people increases, but the disparity between people with and without disabilities often persists. Among people with less than a high school degree, 19.6% of people with disabilities are employed compared with 66.1% without disabilities. For those who have a bachelor's degree or higher the employment rates are 53.7% and 83.9%, respectively. [Table 9 in the Appendix contains additional details on employment rate by educational attainment.]

Figure 4. Employment Rates for Working-Age People by Educational Attainment in Suffolk County  (Data Table for Figure 4)

Financial Status

In Suffolk County, 15.1% of working-age people with disabilities live below the federal poverty level; this is more than 3 times the poverty rate for people without disabilities.

Figure 5. Poverty Rates in Suffolk County  (Data Table for Figure 5)

In New York State, the poverty rate for people with disabilities (28.6%) is close to 2.5 times the rate for people without disabilities (11.5%). Poverty status is determined as a function of household income, family size, and age composition.7 This calculation does not take into account the additional expenses that may be associated with disability such as accessible housing or assistive technology.8 In Suffolk County, the median household income for households that include any working-age people with disabilities is $75,200 compared to $96,500 for households that have no working-age people with disabilities. [Table 8 in the Appendix contain additional details on household income.]

The poverty rate varies across different types of disability. In Suffolk County, the highest poverty rate is among people with a cognitive disability (19.8%) and the lowest poverty rate is among people with a hearing disability (5.9%). Statewide, the poverty rate is highest for people with a cognitive disability (35.3%) and lowest for people with a hearing disability (20.1%) [Table 3 in the Appendix contains additional details on poverty status by type of disability.]

In Suffolk County, only 20.5% of persons with disabilities are working full-time/full-year (35 hours/week for 50 weeks or more a year) compared with 56.3% of those without disabilities. As shown in Figure 6, when looking at the median earnings of only full-time/full-year workers, the median income for people with disabilities is $50,400, compared with $54,400 for people without disabilities. This compares to statewide income levels of $38,800 and $45,700, respectively. [Tables 7, 8 and 9 in the Appendix contain additional details on financial status and educational attainment.]

Figure 6. Median income for full-time/full-year workers (in 1,000s of dollars) in Suffolk County  (Data Table for Figure 6)

Personal Relationships

In Suffolk County, 44.8% of working-age people with disabilities are married compared to 58.6% of people without disabilities.

Marital status is recommended for monitoring by the National Council on Disability, as it is considered a key economic indicator.9 In New York State, 36.7% of people with disabilities are married compared to 49.3% of those without disabilities. The relationship between marital status and financial status is clear when observing that in New York State, people who are not married are 2.9 times more likely to be living below the poverty line than their married counterparts. A person who is married or in a committed relationship may have higher levels of emotional and other informal supports, improving their quality of life. For example, they may share responsibilities for things such housework and rent with their partner. [Table 7 in the Appendix contains additional details on marital status.]

Other Factors That May Influence Employment Outcomes for People with Disabilities in Suffolk County

One of the greatest barriers to employment for people both with and without disabilities is local job availability. Suffolk County has the 41st highest employment growth out of 62 counties statewide and the 33rd highest rate of hiring.10

Receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can be a major work disincentive for people with disabilities. When considering returning to work, they may face loss not only of SSI's cash benefits, but also health insurance through Medicaid or Medicare. In Suffolk County, 15.6% of people with disabilities receive SSI, compared to 22.3% statewide.

Health insurance coverage has been linked to the quality of care individuals receive.11 In Suffolk County, 89.3% of working-age people with disabilities have health insurance and many have public health insurance such as Medicare or Medicaid (47.6%). Meanwhile, statewide 85.5% of people without disabilities have health insurance coverage, (6.5% have public health insurance).12 [Table 4 in the Appendix contains additional details on health insurance by disability status.]

The Medicaid Buy-in for Working Persons with a Disability (MBI-WPD) Program13 is an important health insurance option for people with disabilities. In Suffolk County, an estimated 15,100 people are potentially eligible for this program, which is limited to persons age 16-64 with a disability who are US citizens, are not SSI beneficiaries, and live in households at 250% or less of the poverty level.

Among people with disabilities, lack of transportation is often noted as a barrier to employment. Access to public transportation may reduce that barrier. In Suffolk County, 6.0% of people take public transportation to work, compared to 26.6% statewide. The average time to work in Suffolk County, 30.2 minutes, is lower than the statewide average (31.4 minutes). [Table 10 in the Appendix contains additional details on county level factors.]


Conclusion

We have presented information from a variety of sources to demonstrate the current status of disability and employment in Suffolk County, including information on disability prevalence, employment rates, and financial security, as well as factors that may influence the employment situation. Improving employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities is critical to improving the financial independence of New Yorkers with disabilities. With this relevant and current information on disability and employment in Suffolk County, stakeholders will be better equipped to guide policy designed to improve the outcomes and quality of life for individuals with disabilities.


Appendix

Notes (click to collapse)

1Suggested citation; von Schrader, S., Erickson, W., Vilhuber, L., & Golden, T.P. (2012). Disability and Employment Status Report for Suffolk County 2010. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, Employment and Disability Institute on behalf of the New York Makes Work Pay Comprehensive Employment System Medicaid Infrastructure Grant. February, 2012. Go back

2The 2008-2010 ACS uses six questions to identify the population with disabilities. A disability is defined as an affirmative response to one or more of the six disability questions (see Glossary for full text of disability questions). For more information on the ACS see the following website: www.census.gov/acs Go back

3All comparisons (i.e., X is greater than Y; X is lower than Y; or X is similar to Y) that are presented in the text are based on a statistical test (with results of significantly higher, lower or no significant difference, respectively) conducted at 0.10 significance level. Go back

4ACS estimates for Hamilton and Schuyler counties are not available, therefore only 60 counties are included in this comparison. Estimates for these counties presented in Map 1 are based on a larger geographic areas called a Public Use MicroSample Area (PUMA). The estimates for Hamilton County use data combined across Clinton County, Essex County, Franklin County, Hamilton County. Hamilton County only accounts for only about 3% of the population of this PUMA. And estimates for Schuyler County are based on data from both Chemung County and Schuyler County. Schuyler accounts for only about 18% of this PUMA. For more information about county to PUMA mappings: http://www.psc.isr.umich.edu/dis/census/Features/puma2cnty/ Go back

5ACS estimates for Hamilton and Schuyler counties are not available at the county level. Therefore only 60 counties are included in this comparison. Go back

6For example, see "Education Pays..." by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm Go back

7The poverty measure is computed based upon the standards defined in Directive 14 from the Office of Management and Budget. These standards use poverty thresholds created in 1982 and index these thresholds to 2010 dollars using poverty factors based upon the Consumer Price Index. They use the family as the income sharing unit and family income is the sum of total income from each family member living in the household. The poverty threshold depends upon the size of the family; the age of the householder; and the number of related children under the age of 18. Go back

8She, P. and Livermore. G. (2006). Material hardship, disability, and poverty among working-age adults. Cornell University: Rehabilitation Research and Training Center for Economic Research on Employment Policy for Persons with Disabilities: Research Brief. Retrieved 9/24/2009 from digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/edicollect/1223 Go back

9National Council on Disability (April 2008). Keeping Track: National Disability Status and Program Performance Indicators. Washington, DC: NCD. Go back

10These data are from the Quarterly Workforce Indicators. The rates are from the third quarter of 2009, and include people age 14-99. The hiring rate is the count of all hires divided by the average employment count. The employment growth rate is the difference between the count of hires and the count of separations, divided by the average employment count. More information about QWI data is available at: lehd.did.census.gov/led/datatools/qwi-online.html Go back

11Institute of Medicine (2004, January). Insuring America's Health: Principles and recommendations. Washington DC: IOM. Retrieved July 10, 2007 http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2004/Insuring-Americas-Health-Principles-and-Recommendations.aspx Go back

12For further county-level information regarding health factors and outcomes see http://www.countyhealthrankings.org Go back

13For more information on MBI-WPD see: www.nls.org/ssassi/medicaid.pdf Go back

Tables (click to expand)

Table 1. County-level Disability Prevalence Rates for New York State (click to expand)
County Disability Prevalance (%) Margin of Error
Albany 8.9 0.1
Allegany 11.1 1.0
Bronx 12.6 0.4
Broome 11.8 0.8
Cattaraugus 12.1 1.0
Cayuga 10.1 1.1
Chautauqua 12.1 0.9
Chemung 13.1 1.3
Chenango 14.0 1.5
Clinton 12.2 1.3
Columbia 9.6 1.2
Cortland 8.9 1.3
Delaware 12.9 1.6
Dutchess 10.2 0.7
Erie 10.5 0.4
Essex 11.3 2.0
Franklin 12.0 1.2
Fulton 13.9 1.5
Genesee 10.6 1.3
Greene 10.7 1.8
Hamilton 11.7 0.9
Herkimer 11.6 1.2
Jefferson 12.3 1.2
Kings 7.1 0.2
Lewis 11.0 1.8
Livingston 8.9 1.1
Madison 8.3 1.0
Monroe 10.7 0.5
Montgomery 13.4 1.6
Nassau 5.8 0.2
New York 6.8 0.2
Niagara 11.2 0.8
Oneida 13.4 0.8
Onondaga 9.5 0.5
Ontario 9.3 1.0
Orange 10.3 0.6
Orleans 12.1 1.8
Oswego 11.8 0.9
Otsego 11.3 1.3
Putnam 7.2 1.0
Queens 6.8 0.2
Rensselaer 10.7 0.9
Richmond 7.9 0.5
Rockland 5.8 0.5
St. Lawrence 13.3 1.2
Saratoga 7.1 0.6
Schenectady 9.0 0.9
Schoharie 11.6 1.8
Schuyler 13.0 1.1
Seneca 12.0 1.6
Steuben 13.0 1.1
Suffolk 6.7 0.2
Sullivan 13.6 1.4
Tioga 10.5 1.4
Tompkins 6.9 0.9
Ulster 11.3 1.0
Warren 9.7 1.2
Washington 9.7 1.1
Wayne 11.3 1.2
Westchester 6.2 0.3
Wyoming 10.9 1.5
Yates 9.4 2.1
Data Source: Estimates are for the civilian, non-institutionalized working-age population (18-64 years old) and were calculated using American Community Survey three-year (2008-2010) estimates downloaded from the American Fact Finder (factfinder.census.gov).

Estimates for Hamilton and Schuyler counties are not available at the county level. Estimates for these counties presented in the interactive map and table are based on a larger geographic areas called a Public Use Microdata Area (PUMA). The estimates for Hamilton County use data combined across Clinton County, Essex County, Franklin County, and Hamilton County. Hamilton County only accounts for only about 3% of the population of this PUMA. And estimates for Schuyler County are based on data from both Chemung County and Schuyler County. Schuyler accounts for only about 18% of this PUMA

Table 2. Demographic Characteristics and Disability Prevalence Rates in Suffolk County (click to expand)
Population Estimate Margin of Error Disability Prevalence (%) Margin of Error
Overall 923,700 1,300 6.7 0.2
Sex
Male 458,700 1,100 7.0 0.3
Female 465,000 640 6.4 0.3
Race/Ethnicity
White alone 762,500 4,000 6.6 0.3
African American/Black alone 68,000 1,000 10.5 1.3
American Indian/Native Alaskan alone 2,200 680 12.0 6.4
Asian alone 34,700 670 3.7 1.0
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander alone - - - -
Other race alone 45,300 3,800 5.0 1.3
Two or more races 10,900 1,200 9.4 2.7
Hispanic or Latino 150,800 280 5.0 0.6
Data Source: Estimates are for the civilian, non-institutionalized working-age population (18-64 years old) and were calculated using American Community Survey three-year (2008-2010) estimates downloaded from the American Fact Finder (factfinder.census.gov). A "-" indicates that no statistically reliable data were available.
Table 3. Disability Prevalence, Employment Rates, and Poverty Rates by Type of Disability in Suffolk County(click to expand)
Type of Disability Prevalence (%) Margin of Error Employment Rate (%) Margin of Error Poverty Rate (%) Margin of Error
Hearing 1.3 0.1 54.2 2.9 5.9 4.1
Visual 0.9 0.1 35.8 4.5 19.2 8.5
Ambulatory 3.3 0.2 26.4 2.3 16.3 4.2
Cognitive 2.5 0.1 23.8 2.3 19.8 5.1
Self-care 1.2 0.1 19.7 3.6 16.4 7.0
Independent-living 2.6 0.1 18.7 2.3 19.6 5.1
Data Source: Estimates are for the civilian, non-institutionalized working-age population (18-64 years old). Prevalence and employment rates were calculated using American Community Survey three-year (2008-2010) estimates downloaded from the American Fact Finder (factfinder2.census.gov) Poverty rates were calculated using American Community Survey three-year (2008-2010) Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) file.
Table 4. Employment Rates, Poverty Rates and Health Insurance Coverage for People with and without Disabilities in Suffolk County (click to expand)
People with Disabilities People without Disabilities
Percent (%) Margin of Error Percent (%) Margin of Error
Employed (i.e., employment rate) 35.1 1.5 77.4 0.9
Not employed, actively looking for work 5.9 1.0 5.0 0.3
Not employed, not looking for work 59.0 21.0 17.6 0.5
Poverty rate 15.1 1.7 4.7 0.4
With health insurance 89.3 3.8 85.5 0.5
With public health insurance (e.g., Medicare or Medicaid) 47.6 2.4 6.5 0.3
Data Source: Estimates are for the civilian, non-institutionalized working-age population (18-64 years old) and were calculated using American Community Survey three-year (2008-2010) estimates downloaded from the American Fact Finder (factfinder.census.gov). A "-" indicates that no statistically reliable data were available.
Table 5. Employment Rates for People with and without Disabilities by various Demographic Characteristics in Suffolk County (click to expand)
People with Disabilities People without Disabilities
Employment Rate (%) Margin of Error Employment Rate (%) Margin of Error
Sex
Male 35.3 3.2 83.3 0.7
Female 33.6 3.3 72.2 0.8
Race/Ethnicity
White alone 36.8 2.6 78.5 0.6
African American/Black alone 25.4 6.2 72.2 2.2
American Indian/Native Alaskan alone - - 72.1 13.4
Asian alone 31.4 15.7 68.0 3.1
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander alone - - - -
Other race alone 24.4 10.2 80.4 2.4
Two or more races 13.6 12.9 75.4 5.3
Hispanic or Latino 30.7 6.4 78.3 1.3
Data Source: Estimates are for the civilian, non-institutionalized working-age population (18-64 years old). Estimates were calculated using American Community Survey three-year (2008-2010) Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) file. A "-" indicates that no statistically reliable data were available.
Table 6. Work History of People in Suffolk County who are Not Working (click to expand)
People with Disabilities People without Disabilities
Percent Margin of Error Percent Margin of Error
Work History
Employed in last 12 months 11.1 2.0 28.4 1.3
Employed in the last 1-5 years 21.8 2.7 24.1 1.3
Employed more than 5 years ago or never employed 67.1 3.1 47.6 1.5
Data Source: Estimates are for the civilian, non-institutionalized working-age population, age 18-64 years old. Work history estimates were calculated using American Community Survey three-year (2008-2010) Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) file.
Table 7. Educational Attainment, Financial Status, and Personal Relationships by Disability Status in Suffolk County (click to expand)
People with Disabilities People without Disabilities
Percent or Median Margin of Error Percent or Median Margin of Error
Educational attainment
Less than HS 19.1 2.2 8.3 0.4
High school graduate 37.1 2.7 27.6 0.7
Some college or Associate degree 27.5 2.5 31.7 0.7
Bachelors or higher 16.3 2.1 32.4 0.7
Employed, full-time/full-year 20.5 2.1 56.3 0.7
Median annual earnings for full-time/full-year workers $50,400 $9,400 $54,400 $1,800
Marital Status: Married 44.8 2.4 58.6 0.6

Data Sources: Estimates are for the civilian, non-institutionalized working-age population (18-64 years old) and were calculated using American Community Survey three-year (2008-2010) Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) file.

Table 8. Household Income for Suffolk County (click to expand)
Households that Include any Working-age People with Disabilities Households that do Not Include any Working-age People with Disabilities
Median Margin of Error Median Margin of Error
Household Income $75,200 $9,000 $96,500 $3,500
Data Source: Estimates were calculated using American Community Survey three-year (2008-2010) Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) files. Estimates are for households that include at least one civilian, non-institutionalized working-age person (18-64 years old).
Table 9. Employment Rates for People with and without Disabilities by Educational Attainment in Suffolk County (click to expand)
People with Disabilities People without Disabilities
Percent Margin of Error Percent Margin of Error
Employed
Less than HS 19.6 5.1 66.1 2.5
High school graduate 31.5 4.3 73.6 1.3
Some college or Associate degree 37.5 5.2 77.9 1.1
Bachelors or higher 53.7 7.0 83.9 1.0
Data Source: Estimates are for the civilian, non-institutionalized working-age population (18-64 years old) and were calculated using American Community Survey three-year Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) files.
Table 10. Characteristics that May Influence Employment Outcomes for People with Disabilities in Suffolk County (click to expand)
Suffolk County Margin of Error New York State Margin of Error
Percent of people with disabilities receiving SSI benefits 15.6 1.8 22.3 59.0
Mean travel time to work (in minutes) 30.2 0.4 31.4 0.1
Percent of workers who take public transportation 6.0 0.3 26.6 0.1
Employment growth rate (percent of average employment) -1.0 N/A -0.3 N/A
Hiring rate (percent of average employment) 20.1 N/A 19.0 N/A

Data Sources: The percent of people with disabilities receiving SSI was calculated for the civilian, non-institutionalized working-age population (18-64 years old) using American Community Survey three-year (2008-2010) Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) files.

Travel time to work and Percent of workers who take public transportation were calculated using American Community Survey three-year (2008-2010) estimates downloaded from the American Fact Finder (factfinder2.census.gov). The estimates of Travel time to work and Percent who take public transportation are based on workers 16 years and older.

Employment growth rate and Hiring rate are from the Quarterly Workforce Indicators. The rates are from the third Quarter of 2009, and include people age 14-99. The Hiring rate is the count of all hires divided by the average employment count. The employment growth rate is the difference between the count of hires and the count of separations, divided by the average employment count. More information about QWI data is available at: lehd.did.census.gov/led/datatools/qwi-online.html.


Glossary (click to expand)

Ambulatory Disability

This disability type is based on the question (asked of persons ages 5 or older): Does this person have serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs?

American Community Survey

The ACS is a continuous data collection effort conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau that is used to produce annual estimates at the national, state and local level on the characteristics of the United States population, replacing the decennial Census long form. The ACS collects information on an annual basis from approximately 3 million addresses in the United States, a 2.5 percent of the population living in group quarters and 36,000 addresses in Puerto Rico.

Click here for more information on the ACS

Cognitive Disability

This disability type is based on the question (asked of persons ages 5 or older): Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does this person have serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions?

Disability and Disability Types

The ACS definition of disability is based on six questions. A person is coded as having a disability if he or she or a proxy respondent answers affirmatively for one or more of these six categories.

  • Hearing Disability (asked of all ages): Is this person deaf or does he/she have serious difficulty hearing?
  • Visual Disability (asked of all ages): Is this person blind or does he/she have serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses?
  • Cognitive Disability (asked of persons ages 5 or older): Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does this person have serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions?
  • Ambulatory Disability (asked of persons ages 5 or older): Does this person have serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs?
  • Self-care Disability (asked of persons ages 5 or older): Does this person have difficulty dressing or bathing?
  • Independent Living Disability (asked of persons ages 15 or older): Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does this person have difficulty doing errands alone such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping?

Earnings

Earnings are defined as wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, or tips from all jobs including self-employment income (NET income after business expenses) from own nonfarm businesses or farm businesses, including proprietorships and partnerships.

Educational Attainment

Our definition is based on the responses to the question: "What is the highest degree or level of school this person has completed? If currently enrolled, mark the previous grade or highest degree received." Our category "high school diploma/equivalent" includes those marking the ACS option "Regular high school diploma — GED or alternative credential." Our category "Some college/Associate's degree" includes those marking the ACS options: some college credit, but less than 1 year of college credit; one or more years of college credit but no degree, or "Associate's degree (for example: AA, AS)." Our category "a Bachelor's or more" includes those marking the ACS options: "Bachelor's degree (for example: BA, BS)"; "Master's degree (for example: MA, MS, MEng, MEd, MSW, MBA)"; "Professional degree (for example: MD, DDS, DVM, LLB, JD)"; or "Doctorate degree (for example: PhD, EdD)." Note in 2008 changes were made to some of the response categories and the layout of this question.

Employment

A person is considered employed if he or she is either

  • a. "at work": those who did any work at all during the reference week as a paid employee (worked in his or her own business or profession, worked on his or her own farm, or worked 15 or more hours as an unpaid worker on a family farm or business) or
  • b. were "with a job but not at work," : had a job but temporarily did not work at that job during the reference week due to illness, bad weather, industrial dispute, vacation or other personal reasons. The reference week is defined as the week preceding the date the questionnaire was completed.

Full-Time/Full-Year Employment

A person is considered employed full-time/full-year if he or she worked 35 hours or more per week (full-time) and 50 or more weeks per year (full-year). The reference period is defined as the 12 months preceding the date the questionnaire was completed. Note: this does not signify whether a person is eligible for fringe benefits. The question and response categories regarding weeks worked per year was changed in 2008.

Gender

Based on the question: "What is this person’s sex?" Responses include male and female.

Health Insurance Coverage

Is based on the following question: Is this person CURRENTLY covered by any of the following types of health insurance or health coverage plans? Mark "Yes" or "No" for EACH type of coverage in items a – h.

  • a. Insurance through a current or former employer or union (of this person or another family member)
  • b. Insurance purchased directly from an insurance company (by this person or another family member)
  • c. Medicare, for people 65 and older, or people with certain disabilities
  • d. Medicaid, Medical Assistance, or any kind of government-assistance plan for those with low incomes or a disability
  • e. VA (including those who have ever used or enrolled for VA health care)
  • f. TRICARE or other military health care
  • g. Indian Health Service
  • h. Any other type of health insurance or health coverage plan – Specify (Note: "Other type" were recoded into one of the categories a-g by the Census Bureau)
  • Hearing Disability

    This disability type is based on the question (asked of all ages): Is this person deaf or does he/she have serious difficulty hearing?

    Hispanic or Latino Origin

    People of Hispanic or Latino origin are those who classify themselves in a specific Hispanic or Latino category in response to the question, “Is this person Spanish/Hispanic/Latino?” Specifically, those of Hispanic or Latino origin are those who are Cuban; Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano; Puerto Rican; or other Spanish/Hispanic/Latino. Origin may be the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States. People who identify their origin as Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino may be of any race.

    Household Income

    Household Income is defined as the total income of a household including: wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, or tips from all jobs; self-employment income (NET income after business expenses) from own non-farm or farm businesses, including proprietorships and partnerships; interest, dividends, net rental income, royalty income, or income from real estates and trusts; Social Security or Railroad Retirement; Supplemental Security Income; any public assistance or welfare payments from the state or local welfare office; retirement, survivor or disability pensions; and any other regularly received income (e.g., Veterans' payments, unemployment compensation, child support or alimony). Median household income is calculated with the household as the unit of analysis, using household weights without adjusting for household size.

    Independent Living Disability

    This disability type is based on the question (asked of persons ages 15 or older): Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does this person have difficulty doing errands alone such as visiting a doctor's office or shopping?

    Margin of Error (MOE)

    Survey data, such as data from the ACS or CPS, is based on a sample, and therefore statistics derived from this data are subject to sampling variability. The margin of error (MOE) is a measure of the degree of sampling variability. In a random sample, the degree of sampling variation is determined by the underlying variability of the phenomena being estimated (e.g., income) and the size of the sample (i.e., the number of survey participants used to calculate the statistic). The smaller the margin of error, the lower the sampling variability and the more "precise" the estimate. A margin of error is the difference between an estimate and its upper or lower confidence bounds. Confidence bounds are calculated by adding the (MOE) to the estimate (upper bound) and subtracting the (MOE) from the estimate (lower bound). When confidence bounds are calculated using a 90% MOE, there is a 90% certainty that the actual value lies somewhere between the upper and lower confidence bounds.

    Median

    A median is often used instead of an average to characterize the incomes of people in the population. Median income is the amount which divides the income distribution into two equal groups, half having incomes above the median, half having incomes below the median. We use median income instead of average income because average income can be influence by extreme income amounts of a few people in the population.

    Not Working But Actively Looking For Work

    A person is defined as not working but actively looking for work if he or she reports not being employed but has been ACTIVELY looking for work during the last four weeks.

    Poverty

    The poverty measure is computed based upon the standards defined in Directive 14 from the Office of Management and Budget. These standards use poverty thresholds created in 1982 and index these thresholds to 2008 dollars using poverty factors based upon the Consumer Price Index. They use the family as the income sharing unit and family income is the sum of total income from each family member living in the household. The poverty threshold depends upon the size of the family; the age of the householder; and the number of related children under the age of 18.

    Prevalence

    The percentage or number of persons reporting disabilities. The percentage (prevalence rate) is calculated by dividing the number of people reporting a disability by the total number of people in the population.

    Race

    Our race categories are based on the question, "[w]hat is this person’s race? Mark (X) one or more races to indicate what this person considers himself/herself to be." Responses include the following: White; Black or African-American; American Indian or Alaska Native (print name of enrolled or principal tribe); Asian Indian; Chinese; Filipino; Japanese; Korean; Vietnamese; Other Asian (Print Race); Native Hawaiian; Guamanian or Chamarro; Samoan; Other Pacific Islander (Print Race Below); Some other race (print race below). Other race also contains people who report more than one race.

    Self-Care Disability

    This disability type is based on the question (asked of persons ages 5 or older): 17c. Does this person have difficulty dressing or bathing?

    Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

    A person is defined as receiving SSI payments if he or she reports receiving SSI income in the 12 months prior to the survey.

    Veteran Service-Connected Disability

    A disease or injury determined to have occurred in or to have been aggravated by military service. A disability is evaluated according to the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities in Title 38, CFR, and Part 4. Extent of disability is expressed as a percentage from 0% (for conditions that exist but are not disabling to a compensable degree) to 100%, in increments of 10%. This information was determined by the following two part question:

    • a. Does this person have a VA service-connected disability rating?
      • Yes (such as 0%, 10%, 20%, ... , 100%)
      • No SKIP to question 28a
    • b. What is this person’s service-connected disability rating?
      • Responses included: 0 percent; 10 or 20 percent; 30 or 40 percent; 50 or 60 percent; 70 percent or higher

    Visual Disability

    This disability type is based on the question (asked of all ages): Is this person blind or does he/she have serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses?