Unemployment for Disabled Adults Up 80%

This week I am covering the plight of disabled adults between 2000 and 2013. On Monday, I discussed the fact that the poverty rate for disabled adults increased 50% over this period. Today's post is about labor force participation and employment.

Before getting into the employment figures, it's important again to note that, in the American Community Survey dataset that I am using, the percentage of adults that are disabled has not risen. If anything, the disability rate is slightly down.

Labor Force Participation

Among these disabled adults, the percentage who are employed or looking for work (the labor force participation rate) has fallen over this period from 50.3% to 39.2%. At the same time, the labor force participation rate for nondisabled adults has held steady around 82%.

This trend is consistent with similar figures from the Current Population Survey.

The CPS disability question graphed above is different from the ACS one, which explains why the disabled LFP rate differs. But, ignoring the precise level, you can see the same trend: disabled LFP is going down significantly while nondisabled LFP is staying roughly the same.

Unemployment Rates

In addition to a declining labor force participation rate, the percentage of disabled jobseekers who actually find employment has also taken a plunge. 

Over the period, the unemployment rate for disabled adults increased from 8.7% to 15.8%, a rise of 82%. Unlike with labor force participation, both the disabled and nondisabled unemployment rates trend in lock step with one another. The Great Recession caused the post-2008 spikes. Recoveries began for both in 2011. Overall, the disabled unemployment rate was always between 2.1x and 2.6x greater than the nondisabled unemployment rate.

Employment-to-Population Ratio

Taken together, the declining LFP and rising unemployment rate have caused a sizeable reduction in the employment-to-population ratio for disabled adults.

During the period, the disabled EPOP fell from 45.9% to 33%, a decline of 28.1%. The nondisabled EPOP also fell slightly, though entirely from the unemployment caused by the Great Recession.

(Hat tip to Philip N. Cohen for the CPS graph)