Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Spring 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)


Political Science


One in five Americans lives with a disability, yet this group has one of the highest unemployment rates. Over the years, many surveys have been conducted to understand the reasons for the high unemployment rate facing this group. Nearly all these studies have concentrated on the private sector, indentifying various barriers to employment including: lack of knowledge and awareness among employers, legal and safety concerns, financial issues, lack of recruitment strategies, limited social relationships among people with disabilities, potential attendance problems, and conflicting government programs. Among the myriad of obstacles facing people with disabilities, these are just some of the most common barriers to employment mentioned in the literature, other barriers may be present given individual and organizational situations. This research concentrates on the public sector, specifically local governments in Georgia, and attempts to improve the understanding of barriers to employment of people with disabilities.

The purpose of this study, therefore, is to examine the opinions of public managers in Georgia regarding the barriers to employment that people with disabilities throughout the state are experiencing when seeking local government jobs. The study also attempts to highlight barriers to public employment by drawing parallels with studies done in the private sector, thus attempting to identify unique barriers specific to public employment, and lays the groundwork for further research.

A 20 question survey instrument was sent to 200 managers in Georgia local governments, and 45 were completed resulting in a response rate of 22.5 percent. The research revealed that while the majority of the barriers were not similar to the ones previously identified in the private sector, some similarities do exist. One of the major barriers in both sectors is the lack of targeted recruitment strategies for this group. The respondents also agreed that people with disabilities may face discrimination in hiring practices. Researchers also selected specific variables to analyze whether or not the size of the organization affected the responses; however, no relationship was identified in this particular study. The research provides possible recommendations for reducing these barriers in public sector employment for people with disabilities in Georgia.

This issue should be of relevance to government given their role as model employers and in ensuring equal employment opportunities for various underrepresented groups such as people with disabilities. Future studies of local governments pertaining to their hiring practices of people with disabilities would add to the understanding of the barriers to employment within their agencies.