Capitol Correspondence - 03.05.24

Record Highs in Disability Employment: A Positive Shift Amidst Disparities

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Recent data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals a significant milestone in disability employment, reaching its highest level since tracking began. In 2023, 22.5% of individuals with disabilities were employed, marking an increase of 1.2 percentage points from the previous year and the highest rate recorded since 2008.

The findings are part of an annual report derived from the Current Population Survey, a monthly survey capturing employment and unemployment data from approximately 60,000 households across the U.S. Despite this positive trend, the employment rate for people with disabilities remains substantially lower, constituting roughly a third of the general population’s employment rate. Moreover, unemployment rates persistently remain higher for individuals with disabilities, irrespective of their educational attainment.

The Labor Department’s report highlights the following key insights:

  1. Disparities Across Age Groups:
    • People with disabilities, across all age groups, exhibit lower employment rates compared to their non-disabled counterparts.
  2. Part-Time Employment and Self-Employment:
    • Individuals with disabilities are almost twice as likely to engage in part-time employment.
    • A higher percentage of disabled individuals are self-employed.
  3. Occupational Disparities:
    • People with disabilities are more commonly employed in service occupations.
    • They are notably underrepresented in management and professional positions.
  4. Labor Force Participation:
    • About three-quarters of people with disabilities are categorized as “not in the labor force,” with the majority expressing no desire for employment.