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Economic News Release
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Persons With A Disability: Barriers to Employment, Types of Assistance, and other Labor-Related Issues Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Friday, May 1, 2020 				USDL-20-0721

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


	PERSONS WITH A DISABILITY: BARRIERS TO EMPLOYMENT, TYPES OF ASSISTANCE,
		       AND OTHER LABOR-RELATED ISSUES -- JULY 2019


In July 2019, almost half of all persons with a disability who were not working reported
some type of barrier to employment, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
A person's own disability, lack of education or training, lack of transportation, and 
the need for special features at the job were among the barriers reported. Among persons
with a disability who were employed, over half experienced some difficulty completing
their work duties because of their disability. 

This information was obtained from a supplement to the July 2019 Current Population
Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of about 60,000 households that provides statistics on
employment and unemployment in the United States. The July 2019 supplement, sponsored 
by the U.S. Department of Labor's Chief Evaluation Office, collected information about
barriers to employment, prior work experience, career and financial assistance,
requested changes to the workplace, and related topics for persons with a disability.
This supplement was conducted once before, in May 2012. For more information, see the
Technical Note.

Selected Characteristics of Persons with a Disability

In July 2019, 30.3 million persons in the civilian noninstitutional population age 16
and over had a disability. Persons with a disability tend to be older than those with
no disability, reflecting the increased incidence of disability with age. In July 2019,
50.6 percent of persons with a disability were age 65 and over, compared with 16.4
percent of those with no disability. Reflecting the aging of the population, these
shares have increased for both groups since the last time the survey was conducted;
in May 2012, 45.4 percent of persons with a disability and 13.4 percent of those with
no disability were age 65 and over. (See table 1.)

Women made up a greater proportion of persons with a disability than men in July 2019
(53.8 percent, compared with 46.2 percent), partly reflecting the greater life
expectancy of women. By educational attainment, 19.6 percent of persons age 25 and over
with a disability had a bachelor's degree or higher, compared with 39.4 percent for
persons with no disability. 

In July 2019, 19.2 percent of persons with a disability were employed, which was less
than one-third of the employment-population ratio for persons with no disability (67.1
percent). In part, this reflects the older age profile of persons with a disability.
However, the employment-population ratio was much lower among persons with a disability 
for all age groups.

Barriers to Employment

In July 2019, 47.5 percent of those with a disability who were not employed (that is,
persons who were either unemployed or not in the labor force) reported at least one
barrier to employment. This was 2.0 percentage points lower than the proportion in May
2012 (49.5 percent). When asked to identify barriers they had encountered, most reported
that their own disability was a barrier to employment in July 2019 (79.0 percent). Other
barriers cited included lack of education or training (12.2 percent), lack of 
transportation (10.6 percent), and the need for special features at the job (9.9 percent).
(See tables 2 and 3.)

Among those who were not employed, a greater proportion of persons ages 16 to 64 reported
a barrier to employment in July 2019 than those age 65 and over (71.3 percent and 30.4 
percent, respectively). This may reflect the fact that older workers are, in general, 
less likely to participate in the labor force. Among persons with a disability age 25 and
over, 34.7 percent of persons with a bachelor's degree and higher who were not employed 
reported a barrier to employment, compared with 54.7 percent of those with less than a
high school diploma.

Prior Work Experience

Among persons with a disability who were not in the labor force in July 2019 (that is,
neither employed nor unemployed), 88.6 percent had worked previously. This proportion
was about the same for both men and women. A person's disability status was established
at the time of the survey; their previous work experience may have occurred at a time 
when they did not have a disability. (See table 4.)

The proportion of persons with a disability who were not in the labor force but had
prior work experience increased with age. In July 2019, 25.1 percent of 16- to 24-year-
olds had worked before, compared with 97.4 percent of those age 65 and over.

Individuals with a disability who had higher levels of educational attainment were more
likely to have had work experience. Of those age 25 and over with a bachelor's degree 
and higher, 97.1 percent had worked before, compared with 82.5 percent of those with
less than a high school diploma.

Career Assistance Programs

In July 2019, 6.5 percent of persons with a disability reported using some type of career
assistance program within the past 5 years to help them prepare for work or advance on 
the job. In May 2012, 7.4 percent of persons with a disability reported using some type 
of career assistance. Career assistance sources include State Vocational Rehabilitation
agencies and other job assistance programs. (See table 5.)

Persons with a disability who were unemployed at the time of the survey were more likely
than those who were employed or not in the labor force to have used some type of career
assistance. In July 2019, 20.8 percent of unemployed persons with a disability reported
using a career assistance program, compared with 10.1 percent of employed persons with a 
disability and 5.3 percent of those not in the labor force.

Persons with a disability ages 16 to 64 were more likely to have used a career assistance
program than those age 65 and over (10.3 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively).

Financial Assistance Programs

In July 2019, 58.1 percent of persons with a disability received financial assistance
within the past year from one or more of the following sources: Workers Compensation,
Social Security Disability Income, Supplemental Security Income, Veterans Disability
compensation, disability insurance payments, Medicaid, Medicare, and other payments or
programs. This was about the same percentage as in May 2012 (58.4 percent). (See table 6.)

Among persons with a disability in July 2019, those who were employed were least likely
to have received some type of financial assistance within the past year (27.6 percent).
Of those with a disability who were unemployed, 45.5 percent received assistance from at
least one of the financial assistance programs listed above, compared with 65.8 percent
for those not in the labor force. (Differences in use of financial assistance among 
those with a disability reflect a variety of factors such as age, work history, or
program eligibility requirements.)

Some financial assistance programs include work limitations in order to establish or
maintain program eligibility. In July 2019, the vast majority (91.7 percent) of those
who received financial assistance within the past year reported that the program(s) they
used did not cause them to work less than they otherwise would have.

Difficulty Completing Work Duties

Just over half of employed persons with a disability reported that their disability
caused some difficulty in completing their current work duties in July 2019--27.8 
percent reported a little difficulty in completing work duties, 19.2 percent reported
moderate difficulty, and 6.9 percent reported severe difficulty. In July 2019, 46.1
percent of employed persons with a disability had no difficulty completing their 
current work duties. (See table 7.)

Among employed persons with a disability, those age 65 and over were less likely to report
that they had some difficulty completing their work duties than were those ages 16 to 
64--44.0 percent versus 56.1 percent. In July 2019, 55.8 percent of women and 52.2 percent
of men reported some difficulty completing work duties due to their disability.

Requesting Changes in the Workplace

According to the July 2019 data, employed persons with a disability were more likely to
have requested a change in their current workplace to do their job better than were 
those with no disability (13.8 percent and 9.1 percent, respectively). Such changes 
included new or modified equipment; physical changes to the workplace; policy changes to
the workplace; changes in work tasks, job structure, or schedule; changes in communication
or information sharing; changes to comply with religious beliefs; accommodations for 
family or personal obligations; training; or other changes. Among workers with a 
disability, 15.4 percent of those ages 16 to 64 had requested a change in their current
workplace, compared with 6.8 percent of those age 65 and over. (See table 8.)  

Regardless of disability status, requests for changes to work tasks, job structure, or 
schedule, and requests for new or modified equipment were most common. (See table 9.)

Persons with a disability who asked for a change in their current workplace were more
likely to have requested physical changes to the workplace than were those with no 
disability. In contrast, employed persons with no disability were more likely than those
with a disability to request policy changes, training, or accommodations for family or
personal obligations.

Commute

In July 2019, 73.6 percent of persons with a disability used their own vehicle for their
commute to work, compared with 83.3 percent for persons with no disability. For persons
with and without a disability, other commuting methods were used much less often; these
methods included riding in a friend or family member's car, taking a bus, walking, and
taking the train or subway. (See table 10.)

Work at Home

In July 2019, 26.3 percent of employed persons with a disability did some work at home
as part of their job, compared with 23.0 percent of those with no disability. Older 
workers (age 65 and over) with a disability were more likely to do some work at home
than those ages 16 to 64 (42.9 percent and 22.5 percent, respectively). Men and women
with a disability were about equally likely to work at home (25.8 percent and 26.9
percent, respectively). (See table 11.)  

Persons with a disability who had higher educational attainment were more likely to do
some work at home. In July 2019, among persons with a disability age 25 and over, those
with a bachelor's degree and higher were more than 4 times as likely to do some work at
home than those with less than a high school diploma (51.2 percent and 12.0 percent,
respectively).

Flexible Work Hours

Employed persons with a disability were more likely than those with no disability to
have flexible work schedules in July 2019 (46.8 percent and 38.7 percent, respectively).
These workers reported that they had flexible work hours that allowed them to vary the
time they began or ended work. Both figures are up from May 2012 (42.2 percent and 35.0
percent, respectively.) (See table 12.)

In July 2019, 67.2 percent of workers with a disability age 65 and over had flexible
work schedules, compared with 42.2 percent of those between 16 and 64 years of age.
Men and women with disabilities were about equally likely to have flexible work hours.

Regardless of disability status, the likelihood of having a flexible work schedule was
higher for persons with at least a bachelor's degree than for those with less education.

Temporary Jobs

In July 2019, 6.3 percent of employed persons with a disability held jobs that were
temporary, compared with 4.6 percent of those with no disability. These workers
expected their job to last only for a limited time or until the completion of
project. (See table 13.)



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Last Modified Date: May 01, 2020