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Barriers to employment for people with a disability

July 29, 2020

The Americans with Disabilities Act became law in 1990 to help remove barriers in the workplace and in daily life for people with disabilities. As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the law, let’s examine the barriers to employment for those with disabilities. In July 2019, 47.5 percent of people age 16 and older with a disability who were not employed (either unemployed or not in the labor force) reported at least one barrier to employment. This was down 2 percentage points from May 2012, when these data were last collected.

Percent of people with a disability who were not employed by barrier to employment, July 2019
Age and sex Barrier No barrier

Total, 16 years and older

47.5% 50.3%

16 to 64 years

71.3 26.0

65 years and older

30.4 67.6

Men

48.6 48.8

Women

46.5 51.4

Among those who were not employed, 71.3 percent of people ages 16 to 64 reported a barrier to employment in July 2019. That compares with 30.4 percent of those age 65 and older. This difference may reflect the fact that older people are less likely to participate in the labor force.

When asked to identify barriers they had encountered, most reported their own disability was a barrier to employment in July 2019 (79.0 percent). Other barriers 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).

Percent of people with a disability who were not employed with a barrier to employment by type of barrier, July 2019
Age and sex Own disability Lack of education or training Lack of transportation Need for special features at the job Employer or coworker attitudes Lack of job counseling Loss of government assistance Other

Total, 16 years and older

79.0% 12.2% 10.6% 9.9% 7.6% 5.1% 4.4% 16.8%

16 to 64 years

81.6 14.3 12.1 12.5 9.1 6.4 5.3 13.5

65 years and older

74.6 8.7 7.9 5.5 5.1 2.8 2.9 22.3

Men

80.0 12.2 9.9 9.8 7.9 5.1 4.6 15.6

Women

78.2 12.2 11.1 10.0 7.4 5.0 4.3 17.8

Note: Percentages sum to more than 100 percent because people with a disability were able to report more than one barrier to employment.

These data are from the Current Population Survey. For more information, see “Persons with a Disability: Barriers to Employment, Types of Assistance, and Other Labor-Related Issues — July 2019.”

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Barriers to employment for people with a disability on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2020/barriers-to-employment-for-people-with-a-disability.htm (visited October 25, 2020).

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