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CSEM needs more community input on study of economic mobility hurdles faced by Black women with disabilities

Staff Report

A study on the hurdles to economic mobility for African American women with physical and mental health disabilities in Forsyth County has made two significant findings, and could yield more findings for public benefit with more input from government and nonprofit organizations.

CSEM Research Fellows Keisha Rogers and Tammara Thomas of Winston-Salem State University are exploring the hurdles to economic mobility for Black women with physical and mental health disabilities in Forsyth County. The goals are to understand what factors significantly predict economic outcomes for these women, in addition to understanding their particular perspectives. Also, they hope to use their findings to perhaps remove identified obstacles.

According to the initial results from 85 participants, people with mobility impairments are much more likely to be unemployed, compared to those without impairments. In fact, the estimates suggest that people with mobility impairments are roughly 1.7 times likely to be unemployed than those without. Initial results also show that a larger share of black females (66.7%) with mobility impairments report being unemployed, compared to all other groups with mobility impairments (50%).

This data has the potential to help make improvements for this population of Black women, to shine light on what is happening in their lives by putting that data before policymakers and the rest of the public so they can hammer out solutions.

The study, however, like so much else, has been slowed by the pandemic. This vulnerable population has been especially hard to reach through technological means, and the pandemic makes personal visits all but impossible.

There is a solution: government and nonprofit organizations have much of the data needed. CSEM can help those groups by providing, free of charge, state-of-the-art research. CSEM has done this with other organizations. For example, it is currently working with Forsyth County’s Homeownership Program on such research.

If your organization can help, please email Dr. Thomas at and Dr. Rogers at