Hiring More Arizonans with disabilities could greatly benefit the economy, Study Finds

Hiring More Arizonans with disabilities could greatly benefit the economy, Study Finds

By Ryan Cody, 12 News | November 8th, 2019

Looking for work is a full-time job for Jason Snead.

The husband and father has been looking for a new job since graduating from law school nearly four years ago.

Snead says he lacks experience but not education, earning two bachelor's degrees from the University of Houston before going to law school.

"They might think I'm more of a liability than an asset," Snead said.

His disadvantage is something that's hard to ignore when he first enters the room. Snead was born with Cerebral Palsy and uses a motorized wheelchair to get around.

"They might think it's harder to accommodate than it actually is. I want to prove them wrong, but, to be able to prove them wrong, someone has to open the door," Snead said.

Erica McFadden, the Executive Director of the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, says Snead's story is not uncommon in Arizona.

"People with disabilities have been undervalued," McFadden said.

The council commissioned a study with University of Massachusetts Boston to find out how increasing the employment rate in Arizona's disabled community could help its economy.

The study determined that if Arizona increased the workforce participation rate of people with disabilities by 6% over a 10-year period, it would increase the state’s gross domestic product by anywhere between $281 million and $818 million.

These are numbers Jason Snead hopes will make changes for many around the state.

"I'm not looking to make a million dollars. I'm just looking to make a steady paycheck and contribute to society," Snead said.

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