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Disability Employment Statistics

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Credible, consistent data on the employment status of people with disabilities is critical to shaping disability employment policy. Reflecting this, in 2008, after several years of research and testing, ODEP sponsored the addition of new questions to the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) to gauge the employment status of people with disabilities. Prior to this time, many conflicting numbers were available from various sources, all using different definitions of disability and methods of data collection. This historic achievement was the outcome of close collaboration with DOL’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), several other Federal agencies, and disability experts and advocates. January 2009 marked the first month for which official government data on disability employment were available. Today, these data are updated monthly, providing citizens and policymakers with reliable and accurate information on a topic of importance to America’s workforce and economy.

Commonly Used Terms

The CPS is conducted for BLS by the U.S. Census Bureau and provides comprehensive data on the labor force, employment, unemployment and persons not in the labor force. These basic concepts are defined as follows:

  • People with jobs are employed.
  • People who are jobless, looking for jobs, and available for work are unemployed.
  • People who are neither employed nor unemployed are not in the labor force.

Labor force measures are based on the civilian, non-institutional population 16 years old and over. (Persons under 16, all inmates of institutions and persons on active duty in the Armed Forces are excluded.) All other members of the civilian, non-institutional population who are 16 or over and have a job or are actively looking for one and available to work are classified as in the labor force. The unemployment rate is the percent of the labor force that is unemployed. At this time, disability employment data are not seasonally adjusted, meaning they are not adjusted to account for changes in weather, reduced or expanded production, harvests, major holidays and the school calendar.

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