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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 2019
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 2019 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.

Information in this release will be made available to sensory-impaired individuals
upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200, Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.

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 follows.

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 glasses?

   --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 doctorís office or

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 memberís business. Persons who were temporarily absent from their jobs
because of illness, vacation, labor dispute, or another reason also are counted as

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 2019 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.  Workersí 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 memberís 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 2019 survey are
the same as those used in May 2012, the first time the supplement was fielded. The questions
used to identify these workers were essentially unchanged.

However, there are a few issues that could affect the comparability of these estimates with
those from 2012. For example, changes in the demographic characteristics of people with 
disabilities can complicate comparisons of data over time. Also, the 2012 and 2019 supplements
were collected at different points in the business cycle. In addition, the 2019 supplement was
collected in July, and the 2012 supplement was collected in May. 

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

Table of Contents

Last Modified Date: May 01, 2020