Make sure to check out PolicyMap’s data on people with disabilities. The 2012 American Community Survey reveals that over 37 million Americans or about 12% of the population have one or more disabilities, amounting to one of the largest minority groups in the entire nation. You can explore several different dimensions of disability data on PolicyMap, including: Age, Employment Status, and Poverty Status. The data is available across a wide range of geographies, from Census Tract to State.
It appears that rural counties generally suffer from higher rates of disability than counties in metropolitan regions, and the South has elevated rates of disability compared to other regions of the country. Those with disabilities in rural regions are likely to have less accessibility to medical service providers, or lack abundant employment options that could accommodate their particular disability. Meanwhile, in many urban areas, it appears that disability rates are highest in areas stricken by poverty, suggesting a clear relationship between the two indicators.
The map displayed below shows the Estimated Percent of People Unemployed with a disability by County in 2012 in areas of the Midwest and Upper South. Pockets of high concentration of unemployed individuals with a disability are notable in rural regions of the Upper South, but are less pronounced in the metropolitan areas around Chicago, Atlanta, and Washington D.C.
This rich dataset could be used by policy makers in order to better target resources to those with disabilities in their local communities. Those with disabilities are at a higher risk of being unfairly marginalized in our society and economy. Hopefully, with a clearer understanding of the characteristics of those with disabilities, we can better address their needs.
Data on the population with disabilities can be found under Demographics > People With Disabilities. More detailed information concerning disability data methods and definitions can be founds here.