Here at RTC:Rural, we’re into big data sets. We regularly use large national data sets, including the American Housing Survey, the American Time Use Survey, and other US Census data in our research. For example, our Geography project uses data from the American Community Survey to create these maps: Geography and Rural Disability Maps.
What do we do with these data? Disability data can be used to gain a better understanding of a community and service outreach areas, to inform policy development, or to build community outreach materials. Our researchers analyze these data so that we can help inform decisions that affect the quality of life for people with disabilities across the nation, in both rural and urban areas. Primarily, RTC:Rural analyzes disability data to identify county-level trends across the nation.
Want to look up some data for your own research, advocacy, or programs? We’ve got you covered. Whether you’re looking for national, regional, state, or county-level data, you can use these two tools to help you find the information you’re looking for. Continue reading
Improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities requires overcoming persistent rural conditions and barriers
Using data from the American Community Survey, RTC:Rural researchers created three maps to explore disability and employment. The three maps are:
- Disability in America: Employment Rates
- Disability in America: Unemployment Rates
- Disability in America: Out of Labor Force
Full size images of these maps, and further analysis and text description of them, can be found on the RTC:Rural website at this link: Maps of Disability and Employment.
Rural areas dominate the American landscape by as much as 72%-97% of total landmass. While fewer Americans live in rural areas (approximately 15-19%) than urban areas, they make up a larger share of Americans who are unemployed, elderly, live in poverty and who have a disability. Living in rural America can place people with disabilities at a disadvantage. For example, rural residents may encounter serious barriers to accessing services such as healthcare which are typically much sparser and more expensive than in urban areas. Ideally, community services, programs, and policies use up-to-date information to determine what is needed and for whom. However, between 2000-2013 no new information about people with disabilities in rural areas was available. This knowledge gap has negatively impacted our ability to understand or track changes in the needs of people with disabilities living in rural communities.
There is an urgent need to update current knowledge about people with disabilities living in rural America. We used 2010-2014 data from the American Community Survey (ACS) to determine the distribution and demographics of people with disabilities living in rural areas. While data from the ACS puts the national disability rate at 12.4%, disability is more common in the most rural counties (17.7%) compared to the most urban (11.7%). It is true that rates of disability in rural areas may be higher due to an older population, however, rates of disability are higher in rural areas across all ages and impairment types. Clearly, rural matters. Disability is a rural issue and one that should not be ignored. Look for more information about the geography of rural disability as we explore more data from the ACS coming soon!