How Did the COVID-19 Pandemic Affect the Education and Employment of Young People with Disabilities?

How Did the COVID-19 Pandemic Affect the Education and Employment of Young People with Disabilities?

Findings from the Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE) Evaluation
Published: Dec 15, 2022
Publisher: Mathematica
Associated Project

Evaluation of the Promoting the Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income PROMISE Grants

Time frame: 2013-2022

Prepared for:

Social Security Administration

Key Findings
  • Young people with and without disabilities experienced worse labor market outcomes during the pandemic than before it. For example, among youth with disabilities who responded to the American Community Survey, the labor force participation rate declined from 51 percent before the pandemic to 46 percent during the pandemic.
  • Among PROMISE youth, who were who were young people with disabilities receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) when they enrolled in the study, PROMISE treatment group youth experienced a larger decline in labor force participation and employment rates during the pandemic, relative to the control group.
  • The pandemic might have exacerbated disparities in outcomes between youth without disabilities and youth with disabilities receiving SSI. For example, the gap in labor force participation rates between youth without disabilities and those receiving SSI was 30 percentage points before the pandemic, but it grew to 44 percentage points during the pandemic.
  • The pandemic likely dampened the impacts of the PROMISE programs on youth’s economic outcomes. The treatment group youth had made gains in employment outcomes relative to control group youth, but these gains disappeared once the pandemic occurred. There is strong suggestive evidence that the programs’ average impacts would have been more favorable if the pandemic had not occurred. It is possible that the dampening effect of the pandemic on program impacts is temporary.

In March 2020, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) prompted the President to declare a national emergency in the United States, quickly followed by a series of restrictions on the operations of non-essential businesses and public services. The devastating economic impacts of the pandemic were distributed unequally among workers, and workers with disabilities were particularly hurt by the economic downturn. In this report, we combine several data sources to examine the extent to which the pandemic affected the outcomes of young people with disabilities who were enrolled in the Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE).

We used data from the PROMISE five-year surveys, SSA administrative data, and information from the American Community Survey (ACS) to understand (1) how PROMISE youth’s education and economic outcomes changed during the pandemic relative to the pre-pandemic period; (2) how the changes in PROMISE youth’s outcomes compare to the changes among non-PROMISE youth; and (3) how the pandemic likely influenced the estimated impacts of PROMISE.

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