The Power of Statistics

StatsRRTC Releases 2019 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium

On February 11, 2020, at the Holiday Inn Washington-Capitol, in Washington, DC, the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability Statistics and Demographics (StatsRRTC) at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (IOD) released the 2019 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium 

Statistics are a powerful tool - in research, policymaking, program evaluation, and advocacy. They are also a matter of representation, said Andrew Houtenville, Associate Professor of Economics and Research Director and Acting Director at the Institute on Disability. “Imagine if there were no statistics that characterize the size of the population with disabilities and their lives; it would be as if they were not worthy of being counted or considered. Statistics can be dry and sometimes obtuse, but they are crucial to the advancement of people with disabilities.”

In the U.S., disability statistics are often difficult to find and frequently scattered across multiple agencies and websites. The Annual Disability Statistics Compendium makes it easier for the public to access information on people with disabilities by pulling together a variety of statistics from numerous U.S. federal agencies. The 2019 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium reports on a range of statistics spanning topics like, Population Size, Prevalence, and Disability Type; Demographic Characteristics; Health, Health Insurance, Risky Behavior; Employment, Earnings, and Poverty; Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI); Medicaid and Medicare; and Special Education Services and Outcomes. The 12th Annual Disability Compendium explores new areas, “we are now including statistics on the experience of people with disabilities in the areas of housing, occupation, and rural settings,” Dr. Hountenville shared. 

Key findings from the 2019 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium include:

  • In 2018, there were 322.2 million people living in the United States, 40.6 million of which were individuals with disabilities.
  • In 2018, 37.6% of working-age adults with disabilities were employed, while 77.8 % of working-age adults without disabilities were employed.
  • The employment gap between people with and without disabilities did not change from 2017 to 2018.
  • In 2018, 26.1% of people with disabilities lived in poverty while 10.7% of people without disabilities lived in poverty.
  • The poverty gap increased 0.5 percentage points from 14.9% in 2017 to 15.4% in 2018.
  • In 2018, 39.6% of people with disabilities were obese, compared to 27.7% of people without disabilities.
  • In 2018, 45.9% of people with disabilities had private health insurance coverage compared to 75.9% of people without disabilities.

The StatsRRTC also released the 2019 Disability Statistics Annual Report, a companion volume of maps and charts that highlights trend data, and the 2019 Disability Statistics Compendium Supplement, which provides expanded tables which look at age, race, ethnicity, and more. To download these publications, visit For more information, please contact or toll-free at 866-538-9521.