Employment outcomes among African Americans and Whites with mental illness

Valentina V. Lukyanova, Fabricio E. Balcazar, Ashmeet K. Oberoi, Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: People with mental illness often experience major difficulties in finding and maintaining sustainable employment. African Americans with mental illness have additional challenges to secure a job, as reflected in their significantly lower employment rates compared to Whites. OBJECTIVE: To examine the factors that contribute to racial disparities in employment outcomes for African-American and White Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) consumers with mental illness. METHODS: This study used VR data from a Midwestern state that included 2,122 African American and 4,284 White participants who reported mental illness in their VR records. Logistic regression analyses were conducted. RESULTS: African Americans had significantly more closures after referral and were closed as non-rehabilitated more often than Whites. Logistic regressions indicated that African Americans are less likely to be employed compared to Whites. The regression also found differences by gender (females more likely to find jobs than males) and age (middle age consumers [36 to 50] were more likely to find jobs than younger consumers [18 to 35]). Case expenditures between $1,000 and $4,999 were significantly lower for African Americans. CONCLUSIONS: VR agencies need to remain vigilant of potential discrepancies in service delivery among consumers from various ethnic groups and work hard to assure as much equality as possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-328
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Employment outcomes
  • mental illness
  • racial disparities
  • vocational rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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