Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Wednesday, June 21, 2017                         USDL-17-0857

Technical information:  (202) 691-6378  *  cpsinfo@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/cps
Media contact:          (202) 691-5902  *  PressOffice@bls.gov


        PERSONS WITH A DISABILITY: LABOR FORCE CHARACTERISTICS -- 2016


In 2016, 17.9 percent of persons with a disability were employed, the U.S. Bureau of 
Labor Statistics reported today. In contrast, the employment-population ratio for those 
without a disability was 65.3 percent. The employment-population ratio for both persons 
with and without a disability increased from 2015 to 2016 (by 0.4 percentage point for 
persons with a disability and by 0.3 percentage point for persons with no disability). 
The unemployment rate for persons with a disability, at 10.5 percent, was little changed 
from the previous year, while the rate for those without a disability declined to 4.6 
percent.

The 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. The 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 2016 data:

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

   --For all age groups, the employment-population ratio was much lower for persons 
     with a disability than for those with no disability. (See table 1.)

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

   --In 2016, 34 percent of workers with a disability were employed part time, compared 
     with 18 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 2016, 47 percent of persons with a disability 
were age 65 and over, compared with 15 percent of those with no disability. Women were more 
likely to have a disability than men, and Blacks and Whites had a higher prevalence of 
disability than Asians and Hispanics. (See table 1.)

Employment

In 2016, the employment-population ratio for persons with a disability increased from 17.5 
percent to 17.9 percent. For those with no disability, the ratio increased from 65.0 
percent to 65.3 percent. 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 age 16 to 64, the employment-population ratio rose for both persons with a 
disability (27.7 percent) and those without a disability (72.8 percent) from 2015 to 2016. 
The ratio for persons age 65 and over with a disability, at 7.1 percent, increased in 2016, 
while the ratio for persons without a disability, at 23.4 percent, changed little. 
(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 with less education. Across all levels 
of education in 2016, 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, 34 percent usually worked part time in 2016, 
compared with 18 percent of those without a disability. The proportion of workers who were 
employed part time for economic reasons continued to be slightly higher among those with a 
disability than among those without a disability (6 percent versus 4 percent). These 
individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they 
were not able to find a full-time job. (See table 2.)

In 2016, persons with a disability were more concentrated in service occupations than those 
with no disability (21.3 percent, compared with 17.6 percent). Workers with a disability 
were more likely than those with no disability to work in production, transportation, and 
material moving occupations (14.6 percent, compared with 11.6 percent). Persons with a 
disability were less likely to work in management, professional, and related occupations 
than those without a disability (31.7 percent, compared with 39.5 percent). (See table 3.)

The proportion of persons employed in government was about the same for both persons with 
a disability and persons without a disability in 2016 (14.0 percent and 13.6 percent, 
respectively). However, a smaller share of workers with a disability were employed as 
private wage and salary workers (75.4 percent), compared with those with no disability 
(80.1 percent), and a larger share were self-employed than were those with no disability 
(10.6 percent versus 6.2 percent). (See table 4.)

Unemployment

The unemployment rate for persons with a disability was 10.5 percent in 2016, about twice 
that of those with no disability (4.6 percent). (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 with a disability was little 
changed over the year, while the rate for persons without a disability declined by 0.5 
percentage point to 4.6 percent in 2016. (See tables A and 1.)

Among persons with a disability, the unemployment rates were similar for both men and 
women in 2016 (10.1 percent and 11.0 percent, respectively). The rates for both men and 
women changed little from 2015 to 2016. Jobless rates for persons with a disability also 
showed little change among major race and ethnicity groups in 2016. As is the case among 
persons without a disability, the jobless rate for those with a disability was higher for 
Blacks (16.6 percent) than for Hispanics (12.5 percent), Asians (10.7 percent), and Whites 
(9.5 percent). (See table 1.)

Not in the labor force

Persons who are neither employed nor unemployed are not in the labor force. A larger 
proportion of persons with a disability--about 8 in 10--were not in the labor force in 2016, 
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 age 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.)

Regardless of disability status, the vast majority of those not in the labor force do not 
want a job; in 2016, 3 percent of those with a disability and 7 percent of those without a 
disability wanted a job. About 1 percent of persons with a disability and 2 percent of 
those without a disability were 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.) (See table 5.)



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Last Modified Date: June 21, 2017