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17.8 percent of disabled workers employed in 2011

WASHINGTON (June 8, 2012) — In 2011, 17.8 percent of persons with a disability were employed, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. In contrast, the employment-population ratio for persons without a disability was 63.6 percent. The employment-population ratio for persons with a disability declined from 18.6 percent in 2010 to 17.8 percent in 2011. The ratio for persons without a disability was about unchanged. The unemployment rate of persons with a disability was 15.0 percent in 2011, higher than the rate for those with no disability, at 8.7 percent.

The data on persons with a disability are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that provides statistics on employment and unemployment in the United States. The collection of data on persons with a disability is sponsored by the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. For more information, see the Technical Note.

Demographic characteristics

Persons with a disability tend to be older than persons with no disability, reflecting the increased incidence of disability with age. In 2011, 45 percent of persons with a disability were age 65 and over, compared with 13 percent of those with no disability. Women were somewhat more likely to have a disability than men, partly reflecting the greater life expectancy of women. Among the major race and ethnicity groups, the prevalence of a disability was higher for blacks and whites than for Asians and Hispanics.

Employment

In 2011, the employment-population ratio was 17.8 percent for persons with a disability. Among those with no disability, the ratio was much higher (63.6 percent). The lower ratio among persons with a disability is due, in part, to the fact that a large share of the population of persons with a disability was age 65 and older, and older workers in general are less likely to be employed. However, across all age groups, persons with a disability were much less likely to be employed than those with no disability.

From 2010 to 2011, the employment-population ratio for persons with a disability fell from 18.6 percent to 17.8 percent, while the ratio for persons without a disability was little changed. Among persons with a disability, the employment-population ratio for those age 16 to 64 declined, while the ratio for those age 65 and over rose.

Persons with a disability who had completed higher levels of education were more likely to be employed in 2011 than those with less education. However, at all levels of education, persons with a disability were much less likely to be employed than were their counterparts with no disability.

Workers with a disability were more likely than those with no disability to work part time. Among workers with a disability, 33 percent usually worked part time in 2011, compared with 19 percent of workers without a disability. A slightly larger proportion of workers with a disability worked part time for economic reasons than those with no disability (8 and 6 percent, respectively). These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

Workers with a disability were slightly more likely than those with no disability to work in production, transportation, and material moving occupations (14 percent compared with 12 percent). Those with a disability were less likely to work in management, professional, and related occupations (32 percent compared with 38 percent).

In 2011, 16 percent of workers with a disability were employed in federal, state, and local government, about the same percentage as those with no disability. Seventy-three percent of workers with a disability were employed as private wage and salary workers, compared with 79 percent of those with no disability. A larger proportion of workers with a disability were self-employed than were those with no disability (12 and 7 percent, respectively).

Unemployment

The unemployment rate for persons with a disability was 15.0 percent in 2011, well above the figure of 8.7 percent for those with no disability. (Unemployed persons are those who did not have a job, were available for work, and were actively looking for a job in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.) The unemployment rate for persons with a disability was about the same in 2011 as in 2010, while the rate for persons without a disability fell.

Among persons with a disability, the jobless rate for men (15.3 percent) was slightly higher in 2011 than the rate for women (14.7 percent). As is the case among those without a disability, the unemployment rates in 2011 for those with a disability were higher among blacks (23.5 percent) and Hispanics (20.3 percent) than among whites (13.7 percent) and Asians (11.0 percent).

Not in the labor force

Persons who are neither employed nor unemployed are not in the labor force. As was the case in 2010, a large proportion of persons with a disability —  about 8 in 10 — were not in the labor force in 2011, compared with about 3 in 10 of those with no disability. In part, this reflects the fact that many of those with a disability are age 65 and over. However, for all age groups, persons with a disability were more likely than those with no disability to be out of the labor force.

Among persons not in the labor force, 1 percent of those with a disability were marginally attached to the labor force in 2011, compared with 4 percent of those with no disability. These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. For persons with and without a disability, the vast majority of those not in the labor force reported that they do not want a job.

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