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4. Working-age adults with learning disabilities are twice as likely to be jobless as their peers who do not have disabilities.

Stigma, accessibility issues in the workplace and lower rates of high school and college completion can negatively impact employment outcomes for adults with learning and attention issues. Self-determination and the knowledge and skills needed to request workplace accommodations also play critical roles in preparing high school students for success in the workplace.19

According to an analysis of 2010 census data, only half (46%) of working-age adults with learning disabilities were employed, compared to 71% of adults without learning disabilities.20 The analysis also found that adults with learning disabilities were twice as likely to have dropped out of the labor force completely as compared to their peers without learning disabilities.

More research is needed to understand why the employment disparity is so stark. To the extent that employers may be reluctant to hire workers with disclosed learning disabilities, a 2013 survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) indicates that such attitudes are shortsighted. While adults with a diagnosed learning disability in the U.S. were about twice as likely to have low skills in literacy and numeracy as adults without disabilities, the report noted that “it is striking that fully two-thirds of those with diagnosed learning disabilities are not low-skilled in literacy, with some (around 6%) performing at the highest levels.”21