- The employment population ratio — the portion of the population that's working — was 19.1% for people with a disability in 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. The employment rate for people without disabilities was 65.9%. Unemployment rates for people with and without disabilities dropped to 8% and 3.7%, respectively, in 2018. The data is part of the Current Population Survey, a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 U.S. households, sponsored by the Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy.
- BLS data also showed that almost half of all persons with a disability were age 65 and older, and that jobless rates for people with a disability were higher across all educational levels than those for people without a disability. In 2018, 31% of workers with a disability were employed part time, compared with 17% of those with no disability. People with a disability were more likely to be self-employed than those without a disability.
- According to BLS's report, nearly half the people with a disability were 65 or older, while only 16% of those without a disability were older than 65. Women were generally more likely to have a disability than men, which BLS said partly reflected women's longer life expectancy. Also, the prevalence of having a disability was higher for blacks and whites in 2018 than for Hispanics and Asians, according to the survey.
At one time, so many people with a disability were leaving the labor force that economists thought the exit wouldn't reverse, the New York Times reported last year. But the trend seemed to peak in 2014, when the number of nonworking people with a disability rose to 7 million before dropping to 6.7 million in 2018, according to the Times. BLS reported a drop in the unemployment rate for people with a disability to 9.2% by mid-2018. The latest BLS report — which announced an 8% unemployment rate for people with disabilities — revealed that employment for workers with a disability has risen, tracking with the overall rate for the U.S. population in general.
Employers that are committed to maintaining an inclusive work environment and to exploring diverse talent pools can't afford to overlook people with disabilities. Those looking to better include workers with disabilities can get started by prioritizing accessibility, flexibility and representation, experts previously told HR Dive.
As employers look to hire more workers with disabilities, they must also ensure that they understand and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires them to accommodate people who can perform the essential functions of a job via reasonable accommodations, as long as there's no undo hardship to the hiring company.