In some Chicago neighborhoods, only a tiny fraction of disabled people work full time


Does being disabled mean you can't hold down a full-time job? While it shouldn't, in many Chicago neighborhoods, it seems so.

When The Chicago Reporter took a look at the number of people working full time in Chicago from 2009 census data, between the ages of 16 and 64, we found a lot of neighborhoods where that number is really high. In Lakeview and Lincoln Park, 69 percent of people of working age work full time.

Some neighborhoods, that number isn't so good. Take a look at Englewood, West Englewood, Auburn Gresham and Washington Heights, only 38 percent of people work full time.

But when you factor in having a disability into the equation, those numbers drop precipitously.

In Englewood, West Englewood, Washington Heights and Auburn Gresham, only 6 percent of people with disabilities work full time. Six percent.

When you factor in the high number of disabled people in communities of color, these incredibly low numbers are terrible for a community. Being unemployed or underemployed means more residents living in poverty, a smaller tax base and more need for social services.

Even in Lakeview and Lincoln Park, where the majority of nondisabled people are working full time, only 26 percent of people with disabilities work full time.

Where does your community shake out? Take a look:

The "disability" category in the census data includes all kinds of disabilities--physical, mental, visual, hearing, etc. Having one of those disabilities shouldn't mean you're fated to live in poverty because you can't work. We've got the Americans with Disabilities Act to make physical accommodations more equal and prevent discrimination. But it clearly hasn't made a difference for many who still can't find full-time work to support themselves and their families.

Jeff Kelly Lowenstein contributed to this report.

Photo credit: Christian Heilman

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