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Economic News Release
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Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (ET) Wednesday, February 24, 2021 		          USDL-21-0316 

Technical information:  cpsinfo@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/cps 
Media contact:          (202) 691-5902  *  PressOffice@bls.gov


          PERSONS WITH A DISABILITY: LABOR FORCE CHARACTERISTICS -- 2020


In 2020, 17.9 percent of persons with a disability were employed, down from 19.3 percent
in 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. For persons without a
disability, 61.8 percent were employed in 2020, down from 66.3 percent in the prior
year. The unemployment rates for persons with and without a disability both increased
from 2019 to 2020, to 12.6 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively. Data on both groups
for 2020 reflect the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain
it.

Data on persons with a disability are collected as part of the Current Population Survey
(CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that provides statistics on 
employment and unemployment in the United States. Collection of data on persons with a
disability is sponsored by the Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment
Policy. For more information, see the Technical Note in this news release.

Highlights from the 2020 data:

  --Half of all persons with a disability were age 65 and over, about three times larger
    than the share for those with no disability. (See table 1.)

  --Across all age groups, persons with disabilities were much less likely to be employed
    than those with no disabilities. (See table 1.)

  --Across all educational attainment groups, unemployment rates for persons with a
    disability were higher than those for persons without a disability. (See table 1.)

  --In 2020, 29 percent of workers with a disability were employed part time, compared
    with 16 percent for those with no disability. (See table 2.)

  --Employed persons with a disability were more likely to be self-employed than those
    with no disability. (See table 4.)

Demographic characteristics

Persons with a disability tend to be older than persons with no disability, reflecting
the increased incidence of disability with age. In 2020, half of persons with a disability
were age 65 and older, compared with 17 percent of those with no disability. Overall, women
were somewhat more likely to have a disability than men, partly reflecting the greater life
expectancy of women. In 2020, the prevalence of disability continued to be higher for Blacks
and Whites than for Hispanics and Asians. (See table 1.)

Employment

The employment-population ratio--that is, the percent of the population that is employed--for
persons with a disability decreased from 19.3 percent in 2019 to 17.9 percent in 2020. The
ratio for those without a disability, at 61.8 percent, also decreased over the year. The lower
ratio among persons with a disability reflects, in part, the older age profile of persons with
a disability; older workers are less likely to be employed, regardless of disability status.
However, across all age groups, persons with a disability were much less likely to be employed 
than those with no disability. (See tables A and 1.)

Among persons ages 16 to 64, the employment-population ratios fell in 2020 for both persons
with a disability and persons without a disability, to 29.1 percent and 70.0 percent,
respectively. The ratios for persons 65 and older with a disability (6.9 percent) and without
a disability (22.2 percent) both decreased over the year. (See table A.)

Persons with a disability are less likely to have completed a bachelor's degree or higher
than those with no disability. Among both groups, those who had attained higher levels of
education were more likely to be employed than those who had attained less education. Across
all levels of education in 2020, persons with a disability were much less likely to be employed
than were their counterparts with no disability. (Educational attainment data are presented
for those age 25 and over.) (See table 1.)

Workers with a disability were more likely to be employed part time than those with no
disability. Among workers with a disability, 29 percent usually worked part time in 2020,
compared with 16 percent of those without a disability. The proportion of workers with a
disability who worked part time for economic reasons was higher than their counterparts without
a disability (6 percent, compared with 5 percent). These individuals were working part time
because their hours had been reduced or because they were not able to find a full-time job.
(See table 2.)

In 2020, persons with a disability were more likely to work in service occupations than those
with no disability (18.0 percent, compared with 15.4 percent). Workers with a disability were
also more likely than those with no disability to work in production, transportation, and
material moving occupations (14.9 percent, compared with 12.2 percent). Persons with a
disability were less likely to work in management, professional, and related occupations than
those without a disability (36.1 percent, compared with 43.3 percent). (See table 3.)

The proportion of persons employed in government was slightly higher for persons with a
disability than for persons without a disability in 2020 (14.6 percent, compared with 13.9
percent). A smaller share of workers with a disability were employed as private wage and
salary workers (75.1 percent) than those without a disability (79.9 percent). In contrast,
a larger share of workers with a disability were self-employed in 2020 than were those with
no disability (10.3 percent versus 6.1 percent). (See table 4.)

Unemployment

The unemployment rate for persons with a disability, at 12.6 percent in 2020, increased by
5.3 percentage points from the previous year. Their jobless rate continued to be much higher
than the rate for those without a disability. (Unemployed persons are those who did not have
a job, were available for work, and were actively looking for a job in the 4 weeks preceding
the survey.) The unemployment rate for persons without a disability increased by 4.4 percentage
points to 7.9 percent in 2020. (See tables A and 1.)

In 2020, the unemployment rate for men with a disability (12.0 percent) was lower than the
rate for women with a disability (13.2 percent). The unemployment rates for both men and women
with a disability increased from 2019 to 2020. 

Among persons with a disability, the jobless rates for Hispanics (16.8 percent), Blacks (16.3
percent), and Asians (15.7 percent) were higher than the rate for Whites (11.6 percent) in
2020. These rates increased among all major race and ethnicity groups from 2019 to 2020. (See
table 1.)

Not in the labor force

Persons who are neither employed nor unemployed are not in the labor force. A large proportion
of persons with a disability--about 8 in 10--were not in the labor force in 2020, compared
with about 3 in 10 of those with no disability. In part, this reflects the older age profile
of persons with a disability; persons ages 65 and over are much less likely to participate
in the labor force than younger age groups. Across all age groups, however, persons with a
disability were more likely to be out of the labor force than those with no disability. (See
table 1.)

For persons with and without a disability, the vast majority of those not in the labor force
reported that they do not want a job. In 2020, 3 percent of those with a disability and 8 
percent of those without a disability wanted a job. Among those who do want a job, a subset 
are classified as marginally attached to the labor force. These individuals wanted and were
available to work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not
counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the
survey. (Persons marginally attached to the labor force include discouraged workers.) Less
than 1 percent of persons with a disability and about 2 percent of persons without a 
disability were marginally attached to the labor force in 2020. (See table 5.)



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Last Modified Date: February 24, 2021