Labour Force Participation and Unemployment Not Improving for People with Disability
ABS data shows that labour force participation and unemployment for people with a disability has flatlined, while data for those without a disability has improved.
The participation rate for people with disability has remained stable at 53.4% since 2015, while the rate has increased to 84.1% for those without disability. The unemployment rate has remained stable at 10.3% since 2015, while the rate for people without disability decreased from 5.3% to 4.6%.
The data was collected between July 2018 and March 2019, after the implementation of DES reforms. While the total DES caseload increased by more than 10% or about 25,000 during this period, it appears there wasn’t a significant increase in the participation rate for people with disability. It’s also important to note that people with disability are very overrepresented in the extremely long term (5+ years) unemployed caseload in jobactive. They make up 28% of the total caseload, but 52% of the extremely long-term unemployed.
On positive side, there have been some notable improvements:
- A higher proportion of people with a profound or severe disability were working full-time in 2018. The proportion increased from 7.9% to 11.4%, driven by an increase in women with profound or severe disability.
- Improvements in education attainment, with higher proportions of people with disability completing year 12 or equivalent, a Bachelor degree or higher, and an advanced diploma or diploma.
More detailed information follows, sourced from 4430.0 Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2018 (Additional Information)
Employment characteristics of people with disability
Labour force participation
Labour force participation for people with disability has remained stable since 2015, in contrast to an increase in the participation rate for people without disability.
In 2018, 2.1 million people with disability living in households were of working age (15-64 years). Of these:
- over half (53.4%) were in the labour force, compared with 84.1% of those without disability
- almost half (47.8%) were employed, compared with 80.3% of people without disability
- 46.6% were not in the labour force, compared with 15.9% of those without disability.
Labour force participation by sex
Labour force participation was higher among men with disability than women with disability:
- 56.1% of men with disability compared with 50.7% of women with disability
- 31.0% of men with a profound or severe limitation compared with 23.6% of women with a profound or severe limitation.
Labour force participation by disability status
Labour force participation declined with the severity of limitation:
- 59.3% of those with a mild limitation
- 45.6% of those with a moderate limitation
- 27.2% of those with a profound or severe limitation.
The unemployment rate for people with disability has remained stable since 2015, in contrast to a decrease in the unemployment rate for people without disability (5.3% in 2015 to 4.6% in 2018). In 2018 the unemployment rate was:
- 10.3% for people with any type of disability (more than twice the rate for people without disability, 4.6%)
- 12.7% for people with a profound or severe limitation
- 11.8% for people with a moderate limitation
- 9.6% for people with a mild limitation.
In 2018, just over one-quarter (28.3%) of all people with disability of working age were employed full-time (similar to 2015), compared with more than half (54.8%) of those without disability (also similar to 2015). However, a higher proportion of people with a profound or severe disability were working full-time in 2018:
11.4%, compared with 7.9% in 2015, driven by an increase in women with a profound or severe disability working full-time (9.2% in 2018, up from 5.5% in 2015)
14.6% of men with a profound or severe disability worked full-time, though there was no statistically significant difference from 2015 (10.0%).
People with disability may experience employment restrictions because of their disability (such as restrictions around the type of job or number of hours they can work or a need for special equipment). In 2018, the following groups with disability had an employment restriction:
- almost half (47.8%) of those working full-time
- two-thirds (64.5%) of those working part-time
- almost three-quarters (73.7%) of those who were unemployed
- the majority of those not in the labour force (771,300 or 80.5%); and of these, 515,200 were permanently unable to work.
There have been some increases in education attainment for people with disability. In 2018, among all people with disability aged 15 years and over (living in households):
- one-third (33.4%) had completed year 12 or equivalent, up from 31.4% in 2015
- one in six (16.1%) had a Bachelor degree or above, up from 14.9% in 2015
- 9.2% had an advanced diploma or diploma, up from 8.2% in 2015.