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The Post-High School Outcomes of Youth With Disabilities up to 4 Years After High School
NCSER 2009-3017
April 2009


Many adults consider employment a central component of their lives (Levinson and Palmer 2005). Employment has been linked to a range of positive outcomes, including economic independence and enhanced self-esteem (Fabian 1992; Lehman et al. 2002; Polak and Warner 1996).

  • Working for pay outside the home was an aspect of the early post-high school experiences of a majority of youth with disabilities. Seventy-two percent of youth with disabilities out of high school up to 4 years reported having been employed at some time since leaving high school, holding an average of two or three jobs.
  • Among youth with disabilities who had been out of high school 1 to 4 years, 58 percent worked full time at their current or most recent job.
  • Wages of working youth averaged $8.20 per hour in 2005, and 44 percent received at least one of the benefits investigated in NLTS2 (paid vacation or sick leave, health insurance, or retirement benefits).
  • Youth working full time (35 hours or more per week) were more likely to earn more than $9.00 per hour than youth working part time (35 percent vs. 15 percent). Youth working full time were more likely to receive paid vacation or sick leave and health insurance (43 percent and 40 percent, respectively) than those working part time (21 percent and 15 percent, respectively).
  • About 19 percent of working youth reportedly had employers who were aware of their disability, and 3 percent reported receiving some kind of accommodation on the job, most often adaptations to assignments or supervisory arrangements.
  • Approximately 85 percent of working youth reported that they liked their job at least fairly well and 87 percent reported being treated pretty well by others at their job. Approximately 67 percent to 78 percent agreed that their job paid pretty well, offered opportunities for advancement, put their education and training to good use, and, among those employed 6 months or more, had thus far involved a raise or promotion.
  • Despite positive feelings about their jobs, out-of-high school youth with disabilities were more likely to have quit their last job (53 percent) than to have left for other reasons.