Disability and employment among U.S. working-age immigrants.

BACKGROUND: There is little research which examines disability status and the employment decisions of the US immigrant working-age population.

METHODS: The 2007 American Community Survey data were analyzed to compare disabilities and employment characteristics between immigrant and US-born adults 18-64 years of age. Separate logistic regression models of employment were constructed among persons with disabilities and among persons without disabilities. Each multivariate model included nativity/citizenship, sex, race/ethnicity, age, and education.

RESULTS: In 2007, 40.8% (95% CI: 39.9-41.7) of immigrants with disabilities were employed, while only 34.9% (95% CI: 34.6-35.2) of US-born persons with disabilities were employed. For each type of disability, including difficulty working, immigrants with disabilities were more likely than their US-born counterparts to be employed. The median wage/salary incomes for persons with disabilities, foreign-born and US-born, respectively, were $20,000 and $22,000. In contrast, the median wage/salary incomes of foreign-born persons with mental impairments, self-care limitations, or participation restrictions exceeded those of US-born persons with these same disabilities. Nativity and citizenship had different effects in separate logistic models of employment for persons with disabilities and persons without disabilities. Among persons with disabilities, foreign-born citizens were more likely to be employed than the US-born, OR = 1.40 (95% CI: 1.33-1.48), and non-citizens were also more likely to be employed, OR = 1.74 (95% CI: 1.62-1.87), than US-born persons. Among persons without disabilities, foreign-born non-citizens were less likely to be employed than the US-born, OR = 0.82 (95% CI: 0.82-0.85).

CONCLUSION: Immigrants with disabilities were more frequently employed than US-born persons with disabilities for all types of disabilities.