Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Thursday, June 21, 2018                           USDL-18-1028

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 -- 2017


In 2017, 18.7 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 65.7 percent. The employment-population ratios for both persons with and 
without a disability increased from 2016 to 2017. The unemployment rates for both persons 
with and without a disability declined from the previous year to 9.2 percent and 4.2 
percent, respectively.

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 2017 data:

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

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

 --Unemployment rates for persons with a disability were higher than for persons 
   without a disability across all educational attainment groups. (See table 1.)

 --In 2017, 32 percent of workers with a disability were employed part time, 
   compared with 17 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 2017, 48 percent of persons with a disability 
were age 65 and over, compared with 16 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 2017, 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 for persons with a disability increased from 17.9 percent 
in 2016 to 18.7 percent in 2017. The ratio for those without a disability, at 65.7 percent, 
also increased 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 rose for both persons with a 
disability (29.3 percent) and persons without a disability (73.5 percent) in 2017. The 
ratios for persons age 65 and over with a disability (7.3 percent) and without a disability 
(23.4 percent) showed little or no change. (See table A.)

Persons with a disability are less likely to have completed a bachelor's degree and higher 
than those with no disability. Among both groups, those who have completed higher levels of 
education are more likely to be employed than those with less education. Across all levels 
of education in 2017, 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, 32 percent usually worked part time in 2017, 
compared with 17 percent of those without a disability. A slightly larger proportion of 
workers with a disability worked part time for economic reasons than those without a 
disability (5 percent versus 3 percent). These individuals were working part time because 
their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs. (See table 2.)

In 2017, workers with a disability were more concentrated than those with no disability in 
service occupations (20.2 percent, compared with 17.3 percent) and in production, 
transportation, and material moving occupations (14.1 percent versus 11.6 percent). Persons 
with a disability were less likely to work in management, professional, and related 
occupations than those without a disability (34.1 percent, compared with 39.9 percent). 
(See table 3.)

In 2017, workers with a disability were more likely to be employed in government than were 
workers with no disability (14.4 percent, compared with 13.6 percent). Persons with a 
disability were also more likely to be self-employed than their counterparts with no 
disability (10.6 percent versus 6.0 percent). Persons with a disability were less likely to 
be employed as private wage and salary workers than those without a disability (74.9 
percent, compared with 80.3 percent). (See table 4.)

Unemployment

The unemployment rate for persons with a disability was 9.2 percent in 2017, more than 
twice that of those with no disability (4.2 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 rates for persons with and without a disability 
were both lower in 2017 than in the prior year. (See tables A and 1.)

In 2017, the unemployment rate for men with a disability (9.0 percent) was about the same 
as the rate for women (9.5 percent). The unemployment rates for both men and women declined 
from 2016 to 2017. Although jobless rates for persons with a disability declined among all 
major race and ethnicity groups in 2017, Blacks (13.8 percent) continued to have a higher 
unemployment rate than Hispanics (10.2 percent), Whites (8.5 percent), and Asians (6.6 percent). 
(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 2017, 
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 do not want a job. In 2017, 3 percent of those with a disability and 7 percent of 
those without a disability wanted a job. Among those who do want a job, a subset is 
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.) About 
1 percent of persons with a disability and 2 percent of persons without a disability were 
marginally attached to the labor force in 2017. (See table 5.)



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Last Modified Date: June 21, 2018