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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. (ET) Wednesday, March 30, 2022 			       USDL-22-0555

Technical information:  (202) 691-6378  *  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 2021              


In July 2021, 43.7 percent of persons with a disability who were not working reported 
some type of barrier to employment, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
This was down from 47.5 percent in July 2019, the last time the supplement was conducted.
A person's own disability, lack of education or training, the need for special features
at the job, and lack of transportation 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 2021 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 2021 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 twice before, in May 2012 and July 2019. Data in this news
release reflect the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the labor market. 
For more information about the disability supplement, see the Technical Note.

Selected Characteristics of Persons with a Disability

In July 2021, 32.2 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 2021, 
49.6 percent of persons with a disability were age 65 and over, compared with 17.5 
percent of those with no disability. (See table 1.)

Women made up a greater proportion of persons with a disability than men in July 2021 
(53.8 percent, compared with 46.2 percent), partly reflecting the greater life 
expectancy of women. 

By educational attainment, 21.1 percent of persons age 25 and over with a disability had
a bachelor's degree or higher, compared with 41.0 percent for persons with no disability.

In July 2021, 19.4 percent of persons with a disability were employed, which was less 
than one-third of the employment-population ratio for persons with no disability (64.9 
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 2021, 43.7 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 3.8 percentage points lower than the proportion in July
2019 (47.5 percent). When asked to identify barriers they had encountered, most reported
that their own disability was a barrier to employment in July 2021 (78.9 percent). Other
barriers cited included lack of education or training (12.0 percent), the need for 
special features at the job (10.5 percent), and lack of transportation (10.3 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 2021 than did those age 65 and over (67.9 percent and 
26.1 percent, respectively). This may reflect the fact that older workers are, in general,
less likely to participate in the labor force. Men with a disability who were not employed
were more likely to report a barrier to employment than their female counterparts (45.5
percent versus 42.3 percent). 

Among persons with a disability age 25 and over, 31.0 percent of persons with a bachelor's
degree or higher who were not employed reported a barrier to employment, compared with 
50.4 percent of those with less than a high school diploma. 

For all major demographic groups, the share of not employed persons with a disability who
reported a barrier to employment was lower in July 2021 than in July 2019.

Prior Work Experience

Among persons with a disability who were not in the labor force in July 2021 (that is,
neither employed nor unemployed), 87.1 percent had worked previously. This figure is lower
than in July 2019 (88.6 percent). 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.)

In July 2021, women with a disability who were not in the labor force were more likely 
than their male counterparts to have worked previously (87.9 percent versus 86.1 percent).

The proportion of persons with a disability who were not in the labor force but had prior
work experience increased with age. In July 2021, 21.1 percent of persons ages 16 to 24 
had worked before, compared with 97.3 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 or
higher, 96.3 percent had worked before, compared with 83.5 percent of those with less than
a high school diploma.

Career Assistance Programs

In July 2021, 5.7 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. This figure is down from 6.5 percent in July 2019. Career assistance sources 
include State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies and other job assistance programs. 
(See table 5.)

Persons with a disability who were unemployed (that is, actively looking for work) 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 2021, 24.0 percent of 
unemployed persons with a disability reported using a career assistance program, compared
with 7.9 percent of employed persons with a disability and 4.5 percent of those not in 
the labor force.

Persons with a disability ages 16 to 64 were much more likely to have used a career
assistance program than those age 65 and over (9.6 percent versus 1.8 percent).

Financial Assistance Programs

In July 2021, 56.8 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. (See table 6.)

Among persons with a disability in July 2021, those who were employed were least likely to
have received some type of financial assistance within the past year (23.8 percent). Of 
those with a disability who were unemployed, 48.5 percent received assistance from at 
least one of the financial assistance programs listed above, compared with 65.3 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 2021, 93.4 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. This figure is up from 91.7 percent in July
2019.

Difficulty Completing Work Duties

More than half of employed persons with a disability reported that their disability caused
some difficulty in completing their current work duties in July 2021--28.5 percent 
reported a little difficulty in completing work duties, 20.4 percent reported moderate 
difficulty, and 6.9 percent reported severe difficulty. In July 2021, 44.2 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--
47.5 percent versus 57.4 percent. In July 2021, 59.7 percent of women and 52.4 percent of 
men reported some difficulty completing work duties due to their disability.

Requesting Changes in the Workplace

According to the July 2021 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 (14.5 percent and 6.7 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, 15.6 percent of 
those ages 16 to 64 had requested a change in their current workplace, compared with 8.4 
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.)

In July 2021, persons with a disability who asked for a change in their current workplace
were about as likely to have requested physical changes to the workplace as were those 
with no disability (13.9 percent and 13.0 percent, respectively). 

Commute

In July 2021, 73.1 percent of persons with a disability used their own vehicle for their
commute to work, compared with 77.8 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 2021, 30.9 percent of employed persons with a disability did at least some work at
home as part of their job, up from 26.3 percent in July 2019. Among those with no 
disability, 30.7 percent of employed persons did some work at home in July 2021, up from 
23.0 percent in July 2019. These increases likely reflect the impact of the coronavirus 
(COVID-19) pandemic, which resulted in an increased incidence of telework. (See table 11.)

Older workers (age 65 and over) with a disability were more likely to do at least some 
work at home in July 2021 than were those ages 16 to 64 (38.1 percent and 29.6 percent, 
respectively). Employed women with a disability were more likely to work at home than 
employed men with a disability (35.7 percent and 26.8 percent, respectively). 

Persons with a disability who had higher educational attainment were more likely to do at 
least some work at home. In July 2021, among persons with a disability age 25 and over, 
those with a bachelor's degree or higher were more than 9 times as likely to do some work
at home as those with less than a high school diploma (55.9 percent and 6.0 percent, 
respectively). 

In July 2021, 12.5 percent of persons with a disability and 13.1 percent of those without
a disability reported they worked mostly or entirely from home. Both figures were up from
their pre-pandemic figures in July 2019, by 4.6 percentage points and 8.4 percentage 
points, respectively. (See table 10.)

Flexible Work Hours

Employed persons with a disability were more likely than those with no disability to have
flexible work schedules in July 2021 (45.4 percent and 38.4 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 about the same as in July 2019. (See table 12.)

In July 2021, 57.9 percent of workers with a disability age 65 and over had flexible work
schedules, compared with 43.1 percent of those ages 16 and 64. 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 a bachelor's degree or higher than for those with less education.

Temporary Jobs

In July 2021, 5.4 percent of employed persons with a disability held jobs that were 
temporary, compared with 4.1 percent of those with no disability. These workers expected
their job to last only for a limited time or until the completion of a project. 
(See table 13.)



Last Modified Date: March 30, 2022