People With Disabilities Make 64 Cents on the Dollar Compared to Everyone Else. A New Federal Grant Helps. 

President Joe Biden speaks during a celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and to mark Disability Pride Month, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By Michael McElroy

October 3, 2022

A $13.8 million grant in North Carolina will increase access to resources, competitive wages and benefits, the state’s health agency said Monday.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, including in the workplace. But pay disparities not only remain, they’re vast. 

A 2014 study showed that people with disabilities make only “64 cents to every dollar their colleagues make, a disparity on par with the gender pay gap.”

North Carolina got closer to filling in some of those gaps on Monday. 

North Carolina won a $13.8 million federal grant, the state Department of Health and Human Services announced on Monday, to “provide intensive support and training” to people with disabilities and help them tap into the state’s major industries, including green jobs and the travel industry. 

The grant, by way of the US Department of Education, will increase equitable access to resources, competitive wages and benefits, the NC agency said.

More than 980,000 North Carolinians under 65 have a disability of some kind. That’s 9.3% of the population, much higher than the national average.

“Building a strong and inclusive workforce is a top priority for our department and our state,” NCDHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley said in the news release.

“Working a community job, alongside people with and without disabilities and earning the same wages and benefits as others doing the same job, has a positive impact in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

The five-year grant, the DHHS says, will help create “three regional pilot sites” in North Carolina to “provide an enhanced array of evidence-based services,” to help people with disabilities work “alongside other employees without disabilities, earn at least minimum wage and receive the same workplace benefits and opportunities as other employees doing the same job.”


  • Michael McElroy

    Michael McElroy is Cardinal & Pine's political correspondent. He is an adjunct instructor at UNC-Chapel Hill's Hussman School of Journalism and Media, and a former editor at The New York Times.

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