The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments of 2008 and the Persistent Gap in Unemployment Rates

April 2018

In the United States, people with disabilities have disproportionately higher rates of unemployment than people without disabilities. In this paper, I examine the effects of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008 on the unemployment rates of people with disabilities. Survey data collected from the American Community Survey (ACS) is used to investigate the effects of the ADAAA on unemployment rates. The findings indicate that following the ADAAA’s implementation, the gap in unemployment rates increased by approximately 2.3 percentage points compared to the year prior to the enactment of the ADAAA. However, the effects of the ADAAA and the Great Recession (2007-2012) are difficult, if not impossible, to parse out. It is clear that post-Great Recession, the unemployment gap has increased. Although the unemployment gap has decreased in recent years, as of 2017 this gap remains at a higher level than pre-Great Recession levels.