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Economic News Release
CPS CPS Program Links

Persons With A Disability: Barriers to Employment, Types of Assistance, and other Labor-Related Issues Technical Note

Technical Note
The data in this release were collected through a supplement to the July 2021 Current 
Population Survey (CPS). The CPS, which is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is a monthly survey of about 60,000 eligible 
households that provides information on the labor force status, demographics, and other
characteristics of the nation's civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over. 
The July 2021 supplement was designed to gather data in several specific areas related
to the employment situation of persons with disabilities. The collection of these data
was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor's Chief Evaluation Office.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, please dial 7-1-1 to
access telecommunications relay services.

Definitions and concepts from the monthly CPS

Disability status. The monthly CPS uses a set of six questions to identify persons with
disabilities. In the CPS, persons are classified as having a disability if there is a
response of "yes" to any of these questions. Persons who respond "no" to all of these
questions are classified as having no disability. The disability questions are as

This month we want to learn about people who have physical, mental, or emotional 
conditions that cause serious difficulty with their daily activities. Please answer for
all household members who are 15 years old or over. 

   --Is anyone deaf or does anyone have serious difficulty hearing?

   --Is anyone blind or does anyone have serious difficulty seeing, even when wearing

   --Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does anyone have serious
     difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions?

   --Does anyone have serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs?

   --Does anyone have difficulty dressing or bathing?

   --Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does anyone have difficulty
     doing errands alone such as visiting a doctor's office or shopping?

The CPS questions for identifying individuals with disabilities are only asked of 
household members who are age 15 and older. Each of the questions asks the respondent 
whether anyone in the household has the condition described, and if the respondent 
replies "yes," they are then asked to identify everyone in the household who has the 
condition. Labor force measures from the CPS are tabulated for persons age 16 and 
older. More information on the disability questions and the merits and limitations of
the CPS disability data is available on the BLS website at

Labor force status. Employed persons are all those who, during the survey reference 
week, (a) did any work at all as paid employees; (b) worked in their own business, 
profession, or on their own farm; or (c) worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in
a family member's business. Persons who were temporarily absent from their jobs because
of illness, vacation, labor dispute, or another reason also are counted as employed.

Unemployed persons are those who had no employment during the reference week, were 
available for work at that time, and had made specific efforts to find employment 
sometime during the 4-week period ending with the reference week. Persons who were
waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off need not have been
looking for work to be classified as unemployed.

Civilian labor force comprises all persons classified as employed or unemployed.

Unemployment rate represents the number of unemployed persons as a percent of the 
civilian labor force.

Not in the labor force includes all persons who are not classified as employed or 

Not employed includes persons who were unemployed or not in the labor force. 

Additional information on the concepts and methodology of the CPS is available on 
the BLS website at

Selected questions and concepts from the July 2021 supplement

Barriers to employment. This information was obtained from responses to a question 
asked of persons with a disability who were not employed (that is, either unemployed 
or not in the labor force). Respondents were classified as having a barrier to 
employment if they answered "yes" to one or more of the response options in the 
following question.

 The purpose of this next question is to identify barriers to employment faced by 
 persons with difficulties. Do you consider any of the following a barrier to 
 employment for you?
   1.  Lack of education or training
   2.  Lack of job counseling
   3.  Lack of transportation
   4.  Loss of government assistance
   5.  Need for special features at the job
   6.  Employer or coworker attitudes
   7.  Your difficulty (hearing/seeing/concentrating, remembering, or making 
       decisions/walking or climbing stairs/dressing or bathing/doing errands alone)
   8.  Other

Prior work experience. This information was obtained from answers to the following 
question, which was asked of persons with a disability who were not employed and had 
not already reported working before.

 Have you ever worked for pay at a job or business?
   1.  Yes
   2.  No

Career assistance. Persons with a disability were asked the following question to 
determine whether they had received certain types of career assistance. Individuals 
could give multiple responses.

 The purpose of this next question is to find out if you have taken advantage of any
 of the following sources that help people prepare for work or advance on the job.
 In the past 5 years, have you received assistance from:
   1.  State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies
   2.  One-Stop Career Centers
   3.  Ticket to Work program
   4.  Assistive Technology Act program
   5.  Center for Independent Living for individuals with disabilities
   6.  Client Assistance Program
   7.  Any other employment assistance program

Financial assistance. This information was obtained from responses to two questions.
All persons were asked the following question and could give multiple responses.

 There are a variety of programs designed to provide financial assistance to people.
 In the past year, did you receive assistance from any of the following programs?
   1.  Workers' Compensation
   2.  Social Security Disability Income
   3.  Supplemental Security Income
   4.  Veterans Disability Compensation
   5.  Disability insurance payments
   6.  Other disability payments
   7.  Medicaid
   8.  Medicare
   9.  Other program

The following question was asked only of persons who indicated in the above question
that they received assistance from one or more programs.

 Some financial assistance programs include limitations on the amount of work you can
 do. Did this program cause you to work less than you would otherwise?
   1.  Yes
   2.  No

Level of disability-related difficulty in completing work duties. This information was
obtained from answers to the following question, which was asked of employed persons 
with a disability.

 Previously, you mentioned that you had difficulty (hearing/seeing/concentrating, 
 remembering, or making decisions/walking or climbing stairs/dressing or bathing/doing
 errands alone). How has this difficulty affected your ability to complete current work
 duties? Would you say this has caused no difficulty, a little difficulty, moderate 
 difficulty, or severe difficulty?
   1.  No difficulty
   2.  A little difficulty
   3.  Moderate difficulty
   4.  Severe difficulty

Requested changes in the current workplace. This information was obtained from answers
to two questions. The first, asked of all employed persons, was as follows.

 Have you ever requested any change in your current workplace to help you do your 
 job better?  For example, changes in work policies, equipment, or schedules.
   1.  Yes
   2.  No

The following question was asked only of persons who responded "yes" to the above 
question. Individuals could identify multiple changes.  

 What changes did you request?
   1.  New or modified equipment
   2.  Physical changes to the workplace
   3.  Policy changes to the workplace
   4.  Changes in work tasks, job structure, or schedule
   5.  Changes in communication or information sharing
   6.  Changes to comply with religious beliefs
   7.  Accommodations for family or personal obligations
   8.  Training
   9.  Other changes

Typical commute to work. This information was obtained from responses to the following
question, which was asked of all employed persons. Individuals could identify multiple
commuting methods.

 How do you typically commute to work?
   1.  Bus
   2.  Specialized bus or van service for people with disabilities
   3.  Train/subway
   4.  Taxi
   5.  Own vehicle
   6.  Passenger in a friend or family member's car
   7.  Carpool
   8.  Bicycle
   9.  Walk
   10. Other
   11. Work from home

Work at home. This information was obtained from two questions. First, persons who 
answered "work from home" to the question regarding their typical commute to work were
included among those who work at home. In addition, the following question was asked 
of all remaining employed persons.

 Do you do any work at home for your job or business?
   1.  Yes
   2.  No

Flexible work hours. All employed persons were asked the following question to 
determine whether they have flexible work hours at their current job.

 Do you have flexible work hours that allow you to vary or make changes in the time 
 you begin and end work?
   1.  Yes
   2.  No

Temporary jobs. All employed persons were asked the following question to determine
if their jobs were temporary.

 Some people are in temporary jobs that last only for a limited time or until the 
 completion of a project. Is your job temporary?
   1.  Yes
   2.  No

Comparability of the estimates

The concepts of barriers to employment, prior work experience, career and financial
assistance, and other labor-related issues for persons with a disability used in 
the July 2021 survey are the same as those used in July 2019 and May 2012, the two
times the supplement was previously fielded. The questions used to identify these
workers were essentially the same as in previous collections.

However, there are a few issues that could affect the comparability of these 
estimates from previous years. For example, changes in the demographic 
characteristics of people with disabilities can complicate comparisons of data over
time. In addition, the 2012 supplement was collected in May, and the more recent 
supplements were collected in July. 

Reliability of the estimates

Statistics based on the CPS are subject to both sampling and nonsampling error. 
When a sample, rather than the entire population, is surveyed, there is a chance 
that the sample estimates may differ from the true population values they represent.
The component of this difference that occurs because samples differ by chance is 
known as sampling error, and its variability is measured by the standard error of 
the estimate. There is about a 90-percent chance, or level of confidence, that an 
estimate based on a sample will differ by no more than 1.6 standard errors from the
true population value because of sampling error. BLS analyses are generally 
conducted at the 90-percent level of confidence.

The monthly CPS data also are affected by nonsampling error. Nonsampling error can
occur for many reasons, including the failure to sample a segment of the population,
inability to obtain information for all respondents in the sample, inability or 
unwillingness of respondents to provide correct information, and errors made in the
collection or processing of the data.

General information on the reliability of data from the CPS is available at

Last Modified Date: September 30, 2022